Evidentiary Arbitrage: The Fabrication of Evidence and the Verifiability of Contract Performance
Publication Date:May 09, 2008
The design of legal obligations, whether by a public body such as a legislature or by private contract, should anticipate the enforcement process that induces compliance. Judicial enforcement is costly and imperfect, largely because of limits on the court's ability to detect facts accurately. In adversarial litigation, courts are often fooled by fabricated, suppressed, or otherwise manipulated evidence. Given that fabricated evidence is both more costly and less valuable than truthful evidence, one would think that contracting parties should design their agreement so as to deter future evidence fabrication. To the contrary, this article suggests that evidence fabrication may be harnessed by contracting parties to improve the (evidentiary) cost-efficiency of performance incentives in their relationship. This paper thereby addresses the concept of verifiability in contract theory, the puzzling tolerance of the adjudicatory system for fabrication, and the incentives to fabricate created by thresholds in burdens of proof.