The conspirator dilemma: Introducing the "Trojan Horse" enforcement strategy

Omri Yadlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Trojan Horse enforcement mechanism turns law-breakers into law-enforcers by entrusting them with the right to file a private suit and to collect a fine from their accomplices. Unlike leniency or state witness programs, the Trojan Horse mechanism is not dependent on an efective public enforcement agency operating in the background. It positions conspirators in a prisoner dilemma at the very first stage of their conspiracy, long before public enforcers are on their tails, thus enablinng the state to decriminalize certain conspiracies. As shown in this paper, the Troian Horse mechanism has a (comparative) advantage in asymmetric settings, such as in the employment of illegal immigrants. Whereas fines and other criminal sanctions hardly deter empty-pocket lawbreakers such as illegal immigrants, the carrot this mechanism waves might lure illegal immigrants into suing their employers and leaving the country with a prize in their pockets. Thus, it provides a more humane enforcement mechanism than the prevailing ones, and creates a strong deterrent effect on employers who consider hiring illegal immigrants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Law and Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


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