As long as there is no third party surveilling obedience to legal norms, it is up to the parties to invoke law for themselves. But in many situations which are legally relevant, those involved do not mobilize lawyers and courts. The likelihood of legal action increases with social distance among the (potential) parties, especially in single event relations and in relations with strangers. The paper demonstrates empirically that in the majority of cases those involved look for informal ways of resolving conflicts, it shows in which areas they use quasi-legal institutions, and under which rare circumstances they go to court. Even here giving in or settling the conflict is more frequent than a judicial decision. Whether parties find a compromise and which are their chances of success varies with the issue at stake.