There is a book, the title is the subject, which investigates and describes pirate society in the Caribbean during the "Golden Age" of piracy (Golden if you were a pirate).
Things basically worked out like this;
1. if you surrendered your ship without a fight, you were NEVER harmed
2. if you fought, then you were killed
The cause being the pirates wish to avoid a fight.
I would expect to see something in ED which enabled this system to exist, because it is what I think you could well expect to have happen with space piracy.
You attack a vessel (including NPC); if they surrender, you take their vessel and you never kill them (if they have a pod, the pod is always left unharmed).
If they fight, then you either run or fight and if you fight and win, then you kill them, always.
I would look for this system in fact to emerge for player-character behaviour, too, simply by the incentives placed upon players, as pirates or merchants.