A Paul Scholten Centre colloquium with Chris Reinders Folmer (UvA Law school)
Tort law currently debates the value of facilitating apology in order to enhance the restoration of victims’ non-material needs, and to promote dispute resolution. However, the extent to which apology can augment these outcomes beyond conventional, monetary reparations is not yet clear. The present research aimed to provide some first insights into this question, by means of two experimental studies conducted among community members, manipulated the resulting harm (personal injury or property loss) to examine which needs participants experienced, and what remedies (apology, compensation) they desired.
This study provides preliminary evidence on the relative value of apology and compensation in tort litigation. It suggests that apologies can fulfil important needs of victims (e.g., acceptance of responsibility, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, and retribution) that compensating their losses cannot. However, for resolving their disputes, participants nevertheless based their decisions mainly on how much money they were offered in settlement. This suggests that beliefs about the effectiveness of apology as a catalyst for settlement may be overly optimistic.
This paper is co-authored with Pieter Desmet (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Willem van Boom (Leiden).
For more information please contact Roland Pierik (R.Pierik@uva.nl)