Does Tort Deter? Inconclusive Empirical Evidence about the Effect of Liability in Preventing Harmful Behaviour

Van Rooij, B., & Brownlee, M. Does Tort Deter? Inconclusive empirical evidence about the effect of liability in preventing harmful behavior. In B. Van Rooij & D. D. Sokol (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook on Compliance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (2021 Forthcoming)

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2020-26

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-22

General Subserie Research Paper No. 2020-04

23 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2020 Last revised: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Benjamin van Rooij

Benjamin van Rooij

University of California, Irvine School of Law; University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Megan Brownlee

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 29, 2020

Abstract

This chapter assesses whether tort liability can have a deterrent effect and reduce risky and harmful behaviour. It discusses insights from key reviews of empirical work across regulatory domains. These reviews show that this body of empirical work, in all but one of the domains (corporate director liability towards shareholders) studied, does not find conclusive evidence that tort deters or that it does not deter. Studies do find some indication of negative side effects of tort regimes, such as lowering necessary services, enhancing unnecessary legal defensive practices and raising costs. The chapter concludes that common assumptions about the role tort can play in compliance require a more solid empirical basis. The chapter presents directions for future tort and deterrence research with a focus on better understanding the causal processes through which liability rules may shape human and organizational conduct.

Keywords: tort, deterrence, empirical legal studies, medical malpractice, accidents, liability

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K20, K32, K42

Suggested Citation

van Rooij, Benjamin and Brownlee, Megan, Does Tort Deter? Inconclusive Empirical Evidence about the Effect of Liability in Preventing Harmful Behaviour (March 29, 2020). Van Rooij, B., & Brownlee, M. Does Tort Deter? Inconclusive empirical evidence about the effect of liability in preventing harmful behavior. In B. Van Rooij & D. D. Sokol (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook on Compliance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (2021 Forthcoming) , UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2020-26, Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-22, General Subserie Research Paper No. 2020-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3563452

Benjamin Van Rooij (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Megan Brownlee

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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