Optimal Enforcement of Safety Law

MITIGATING RISK IN THE CONTEXT OF SAFETY AND SECURITY. HOW RELEVANT IS A RATIONAL APPROACH?, pp. 29-62, R.V. de Mulder, ed., Rotterdam: Erasmus University Rotterdam 2008

RILE Working Paper No. 2008/04

27 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2008 Last revised: 14 Sep 2010

See all articles by Roger van den Bergh

Roger van den Bergh

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law

Louis T. Visscher

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law

Date Written: March 10, 2008

Abstract

Given the threats of our current 'risk society', there is an ever-increasing demand for safety regulation to counter the harmful effects of an equally growing number of dangerous activities. Claims for more safety and security abound, ranging from concerns about people killed in traffic accidents and consumers harmed by unsafe products to anxiety about environmental disasters (global warming) and terrorism. This state of affairs poses difficult issues for policy makers. While government resources are necessarily limited, demands for safety and security are in principle without bounds. It is thus unavoidable that difficult choices must be made and priorities must be set. The Law and Economics literature has developed a comprehensive normative framework to prescribe optimal legal policies when individuals behave rationally. It is well established that enforcement agents should not aim at a minimum level of violations of legal norms but at an optimal level. The main goal of this paper is to apply the insights from the Law and Economics literature on optimal law enforcement to the area of safety regulation. Our paper distinguishes between the form of the sanctions (monetary versus non-monetary), the role of private parties versus public agents in enforcement (e.g. group actions), the timing of the enforcement measures (preclusion, act-based sanctions and harm-based sanctions) and the division of competencies between central enforcement authorities and decentralized enforcement agencies. Furthermore, we discuss several criticisms on the rational choice model (especially related to terrorism) and briefly discuss compliance strategies as alternative approach to deterrence strategies.

Keywords: Safety, optimal enforcement, safety regulation, tort law, criminal law, rational choice, deterrence strategies, compliance strategies, sanctions, private enforcement, public enforcement, terrorism, damages, fines, centralization, decentralization

JEL Classification: K13, K14, K32, K42

Suggested Citation

van den Bergh, Roger and Visscher, Louis T., Optimal Enforcement of Safety Law (March 10, 2008). MITIGATING RISK IN THE CONTEXT OF SAFETY AND SECURITY. HOW RELEVANT IS A RATIONAL APPROACH?, pp. 29-62, R.V. de Mulder, ed., Rotterdam: Erasmus University Rotterdam 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1115257

Roger Van den Bergh (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 408 1616 (Phone)
+31 10 408 9191 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.frg.eur.nl/rile/vdbergh.htm

Louis T. Visscher

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
PO box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 (10) 408 1833 (Phone)
+31 (10) 408 9191 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://frg.sin-online.nl/staff/index.html?lia=227

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