TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Southwestern Law School

Monday, April 13, 2020

Van Rooij & Brownlee on Tort's Deterrent Effect

Benjamin van Rooij and Megan Brownlee have posted to SSRN Does Tort Deter?  Inconclusive Empirical Evidence about the Effect of Liability in Preventing Harmful Behaviour.  The abstract provides:

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.

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