Legislating Apology: The Pros and Cons

76 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2001

See all articles by Jonathan R. Cohen

Jonathan R. Cohen

University of Florida Levin College of Law

Date Written: August 2001


Should apologies be admissible into evidence as proof of fault in civil cases? The past year has seen a tremendous rise in "apology legislation" designed to exclude apologies from admissibility into evidence. For example, California passed a law in 2000 barring apologetic expressions of sympathy ("I'm sorry that you are hurt") but not fault-admitting apologies ("I'm sorry that I injured you") after accidents from introduction into evidence as proof of fault. Other states are now debating proposed apology legislation, including bills that would exclude fault-admitting apologies from evidence. As apologies can be central elements in preventing and settling lawsuits, such legislation has the potential to dramatically affect dispute resolution and legal practice. This Article examines policy arguments that can be made supporting and opposing such legislation and offers remaining questions for future research.

Keywords: Apology, dispute resolution, conflict resolution, negotiation, evidence, forgiveness

JEL Classification: K40, K41, D74

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Jonathan R., Legislating Apology: The Pros and Cons (August 2001). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=283213 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.283213

Jonathan R. Cohen (Contact Author)

University of Florida Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
(352) 273-0919 (Phone)
(352) 392-3005 (Fax)

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