Volume 100 -- Issue 2 Georgetown Law Journal

Meaning, Purpose, and Cause in the Law of Deception

Many laws address the flow of information between private parties. Familiar examples include the torts of deceit, negligent misrepresentation, nondisclosure, and defamation; criminal fraud statutes; securities law, which includes both disclosure duties and penalties for false statements; false advertising law; labeling requirements for food, drugs, and other consumer goods; and, according to recent scholarship, information-forcing penalty defaults in contract law and elsewhere. Taken together, these and similar laws constitute what I will call the “law of deception.” They regulate the flow of information between private parties to prevent dishonesty, disinformation, artifice, cover-up, and other forms of trickery, or to avert mistake, misunderstanding, miscalculation, and other types of false belief. This Article argues that the law of deception is a natural legal kind: one encounters similar problems of design, function, and justification throughout the category. Yet, with the exception of several important articles by Richard Craswell, legal scholars have considered only this or that species, ignoring the genus as a whole. This Article makes a start on a general theory.

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