Non-Fiction Books:

Private Property and Environmental Responsibility

A Comparative Study of German Real Property Law
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Private Property and Environmental Responsibility by Murray Raff

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Comparative Law The concept of absolute private property - by which an owner can do whatever he wishes with what "belongs" to him - has been attacked in many ways, but no challenge undermines it as severely as the awareness of continuing environmental degradation in virtual contempt of sustainable development. Throughout the twentieth century and into our own era, legal property rights have time and time again been successfully invoked by polluters and others interested in evading ecological imperatives. However, most jurists today would agree that the internationally acknowledged necessity for land use to be administered in ecologically sustainable ways is plainly a principle that should be harmonized across national boundaries. This remarkable new book is not a radical text, but seeks to find a concept of responsible proprietorship in our existing legal systems. And in fact it presents an excellent case for the universal adoption of the real property provisions of the German civil code, with their roots in the Hanseatic model and counterparts in the Australian Torrens system that pervaded the British Empire from the mid-nineteenth century on. In great detail, the author demonstrates that this system offers a firm foundation on which a truly responsible environmental law of property can be established. For Professor Raff, the key to responsible proprietorship can be found in the land title registration system embodied in the German real property provisions - a system which is indeed already the globalizing trend. Although its ostensible rationale is that of certainty in land transactions, Raff shows that the land title registration obligation necessarily creates responsibility of the owner for the land, thus opening a juridical avenue to environmental imperatives. Land title registration is also far more likely to find common ground with local or indigenous systems than old European ideas of inheritance and equity. In this connection, Professor Raff's comparative law methodology is functional, emphasising what local norms and customs have in common rather than how they differ. Private Property and Environmental Responsibility offers a rigorous and persuasive approach to a major current issue that finds, through the legitimate processes of legal reasoning within our own existing systems, viable solutions to the unprecedented environmental problems posed by our technological age. It is a seminal work that will be valued and consulted for decades to come by environmentally-conscious lawyers at every level of national and international law.
Release date NZ
January 7th, 2004
  • Professional & Vocational
Country of Publication
Kluwer Law International
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