The dogs of war: strategic pre-commitment to legal services
Wainwright, Kevin (Kevin Wainwright (Kevin_Wainwright)) (author)
© 2009 Kevin Wainwright
This paper presents a two stage model of negligence and legal action. In the first stage the defendant decides on the level of due care to take while carrying out an action or activity. In the second stage an accident has occurred and the plaintiff brings suit. Lawyers (agents) invest in actions that are designed to increase the probability of success on behalf of their respective clients. First we present the symmetric casewhere all decisions on investment in legal services occur ex-post (after an accident has occured). We then look as the case where the potential injurer pre-commits to a level of legal services ex-ante (prior to an accident) and analyze the effect that pre-commitment in legal services has on the stage one choice of care. We then present a case study from the field of labour relations where strategic pre-commitment is used to influence the settlement of grievances. The grievance process in labour relations parallel civil litigation and a grievance can be viewed as equivalent to either a tort or a breach of contract; depending on the type of grievance.