Selling and Abandoning Legal Rights

28 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2022

See all articles by Keith N. Hylton

Keith N. Hylton

Boston University - School of Law

Date Written: March 28, 2022


Legal rights impose concomitant legal burdens. This paper considers the valuation and disposition of legal rights, and legal burdens, when courts cannot be relied upon to perfectly enforce rights. Because courts do not perfectly enforce rights, victims suffer some loss in the value of their rights depending on the degree of underenforcement. The welfare implications of trading away and abandoning rights are examined. Victims do not necessarily trade away rights when and only when such trade is socially desirable. Relatively pessimistic victims (who believe their rights are weaker than injurers do) trade away rights too cheaply. Extremely pessimistic victims abandon their rights. Implications for the enforceability of waivers, discrimination in courts, and legal ethics are discussed.

Keywords: legal rights, legal burdens, waiver, discrimination, lawyer conflicts of interest, optimal precaution, optimal enforcement of rights, strength of legal rights, abandonment of rights, damages multiplier

JEL Classification: : K10, K11, K12, K13, K40

Suggested Citation

Hylton, Keith N., Selling and Abandoning Legal Rights (March 28, 2022). Boston Univ. School of Law Research Paper No. 22-6, Available at SSRN: or

Keith N. Hylton (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

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