Giving Reasons as a Means to Enhance Compliance with Legal Norms

University of Toronto Law Journal (Forthcoming)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 21-23

43 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2021 Last revised: 11 Oct 2021

See all articles by Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir

Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir

Hebrew University - Faculty of Law

Eyal Zamir

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Ori Katz

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, School of Law, Students

Date Written: July 25, 2021

Abstract

The threat of sanctions is often insufficient to ensure compliance with legal norms. Recently, much attention has been given to nudges as a means to influence behavior without sanctions; but nudges are often ineffective and controversial. This Article explores the provision of information about the reasons underlying legal norms, as a means to enhance compliance.

While the idea that legal norms should be accompanied by explanatory preambles, to complement the law’s threat of sanctions with persuasion, goes back to Plato, this technique is not commonly used nowadays, and scholars have failed to systematically consider this possibility. The article argues that reason-giving can enhance compliance and reduce the need for costly enforcement mechanisms. The theoretical part of the article first describes the mechanisms through which reasons may influence people’s behavior. It then distinguishes between reason giving as a means to enhance compliance and as a means to attain other goals, and between reason giving and related means to enhance compliance. Finally, it discusses various policy and pragmatic considerations that bear on the use of reason giving. Following the theoretical discussion, the empirical part of the article uses vignette studies to demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of the reason-giving technique.

Keywords: Compliance, nudges, reason giving, legal norms, experimental legal studies

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Lewinsohn-Zamir, Daphna and Zamir, Eyal and Katz, Ori, Giving Reasons as a Means to Enhance Compliance with Legal Norms (July 25, 2021). University of Toronto Law Journal (Forthcoming), Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 21-23, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3892956 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3892956

Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir

Hebrew University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905
Israel
972-2-5823845 (Phone)
972-2-5829002 (Fax)

Eyal Zamir (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905
Israel
+972 2 582 3845 (Phone)
+972 2 582 9002 (Fax)

Ori Katz

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, School of Law, Students ( email )

Jerusalem
Israel

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