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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Commodifying Liability

  • Author(s): Cooter, Robert D.
  • et al.

In recent years, ingenious entrepreneurs have invented new commodities by bundling contingent claims and marketing them. A liability right can be viewed as a contingent claim and analyzed like stock options or commodity futures. Since law prohibits markets for liability rights, no one knows how they would work. I assume no legal impediments to unbundling, packaging, and selling liability rights. I then predict how a competitive market would price liability rights. I use such an ideal market to critique the actual system of tort liability. Competition can solve many of the problems attributed by courts to contracts that reallocate tort liability.

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