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Public Law & Legal Theory


Waiting is often costly. In many settings, one party delays to impose costs on another. In other settings, delay yields a small gain while imposing significant costs on others who cannot easily bargain. Where the parties can bargain, at least one expects the other to relent and to bring about a settlement that is mutually beneficial. Inasmuch as time offers the opportunity to gather information, compare alternatives, and reach yet better bargains, law does not and should not simply discourage all delays. On the other hand, it is often the case that when parties delay before reaching a bargain, they not only suffer costs, but they also impose costs on third parties who had little opportunity to shorten the delay. It is these costs that are examined in this Chapter, along with an idea for lowering these third-party costs. When this can be done, the costs of delay to the bargaining parties are also likely to be decreased. They might be happy to have a legal rule that appears to tax them but that often encourages quicker agreement and lower delay costs.



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