We propose an activity-generating theory of regulation. When courts make errors, tort litigation becomes unpredictable and as such imposes risk on firms, thereby discouraging entry, innovation, and other socially desirable activity. When social returns to activity are higher than private returns, it may pay the society to generate some information ex ante about how risky firms are and to impose safety standards based on that information. In some situations, compliance with such standards should entirely preempt tort liability; in others, it should merely reduce penalties. By reducing litigation risk, this type of regulation can raise welfare.
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The Journal of Law & Economics
The Journal of Law and Economics is an academic journal published by the University of Chicago Press. It publishes articles on the economic analysis of regulation and the behavior of regulated firms, the political economy of legislation and legislative processes, law and finance, corporate finance and governance, and industrial organization. The journal is sponsored by the University of Chicago Law School.