Document Type


Publication Date



I point out that the Coase theorem suggests there should not be wasteful discovery, in the sense that the value to the requester is less than the cost to the responder. I use a toy model to show that a sufficiently informed court could design a mechanism under which the Coasean prediction is borne out. I then suggest that the actual information available to courts is too little to effect this mechanism, and I consider alternatives. In discussing mechanisms intended to avoid wasteful discovery where courts have limited information, I emphasize the role of normative considerations.


Civil litigation, courts, discovery, pre-trial, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, information, Coase theorem, efficiency, mechanism design, auction theory, transaction costs, pre-discovery settlement, social norms, Nirvana mechanism

Publication Title

Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics

Publication Citation

Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, forthcoming 2016.