George Washington University Law School
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-09
By lowering the costs of distributing and sharing information, the Internet makes it easy for dispersed individuals to debate political and legal issues. This Article asks whether it might facilitate something far more radical: distributed decisionmaking. The Article is a constructive thought experiment, gradually building a market-like mechanism run over the Internet, that could be used to adjudicate cases. Traders would be required to value litigation securities, and these valuations would subject traders to selling the securities to or purchasing them short from other traders. The valuations at the close of the market would determine liability without any recourse to traditional courts. The Article explains the game-theoretic dynamics that would give traders incentives to consider applicable law and broader conceptions of justice in valuing securities, and it explores the technical issues inherent in preserving these dynamics in a workable market-like structure. In its most advanced formulation, cyberadjudication would not merely resolve individual cases but would create a web of jurisprudence, one in which securities would correspond to particular legal or factual issues, and a single trade could propagate to affect many different cases. Though this would be a marked departure from traditional legal structures, indeed almost surely too marked to justify implementation in the immediate future, there are a variety of reasons that it might be particularly useful as a means of resolving Internet-related controversies.
Keywords: Internet, distributed decisionmaking, economics of litigation, game theory, cyberadjudication
JEL Classification: K41, K4, O14, O3
Date posted: March 4, 2003