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Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance

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The purpose of this paper is to study the relation between compensation clawbacks and lawsuits and analyze how these two corporate disciplinary forces interact. This paper hypothesizes that by allowing firms to recoup compensation from managers who breach their fiduciary duty, clawbacks provide a form of discipline that potentially reduces the likelihood of managerial wrongdoing, which, in turn, lowers the risk of corporate lawsuits.


This paper identifies whether or not a company in the S&P 1500 had a clawback policy between 2007 and 2014 by searching the company filings and press releases. The authors also construct different proxies for litigation risk and lawsuit outcomes using the Audit Analytics Database. They then perform a variety of empirical tests to examine the association between clawbacks and litigation risk and the association between clawbacks and litigation outcomes.


This paper finds that firms with higher litigation risk are more likely to adopt a clawback policy. In addition, after the adoption of clawback provisions, litigation risk significantly declines, suggesting that clawback policies are effective in reducing the likelihood of corporate lawsuits. Furthermore, firms with clawback policies are approximately 50 per cent more likely to have lawsuits against them dismissed or settled for lower amounts (approximately 12 per cent lower).

Practical Implications

The findings of this paper provide insights to the efficacy of a current change in compensation regulation, the mandatory clawback adoption requirement by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.


This paper contributes to the literature on both clawbacks and litigation, as it is the first to analyze the relation between the two.


Accepted version. Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Vol. 27, No. 1 (2019): 70-85. DOI. © 2019 Emerald. Used with permission.

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