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Litigation and settlement under judicial agency

Levent Kockesen and Murat Usman ()

International Review of Law and Economics, 2012, vol. 32, issue 3, 300-308

Abstract: We model the settlement of a legal dispute when the trial outcome depends on the behavior of a strategically motivated judge. A defendant, who is uninformed about the level of harm that he has caused, makes a take-it-or-leave-it offer to an informed plaintiff. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement and the case goes to trial, the judge decides how much effort to exert in discovering the actual damages. We show that, under very general assumptions, this model exhibits multiple equilibria. In some equilibria, the judge exerts less effort and more cases settle out of court, whereas in others the opposite occurs. We also show that the judge prefers the low effort equilibria with high settlement rate and argue that a “managerial judge” could easily steer the parties towards low effort equilibria. This may be deemed undesirable, since in low-effort equilibria, the terms of the settlement heavily favor the informed plaintiff, and this in turn induces over-investment in ex ante preventive care by the defendant.

Keywords: Litigation; Settlement; Judicial agency; Managerial judges (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C78 D82 K00 K41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2012.03.002

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