Sustainable Property Law: Reckoning, Resilience, and Reform

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It is often held that the law is neutral and that it is made in such a way that we can give it shape and adapt it to various societal circumstances. This applies especially to the law of property, also known as the law of things - whatever these things may be, that provides us building blocks of our market economy. We can think in this respect of freedom of ownership - especially private ownership - free circulation of goods and as much party autonomy as we can fathom. We have not arrived at this since yesterday; property law has been around in most of its current form for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. In a different time and in a different legal system, Roman law awarded much of the same positions as current-day property rights with real actions, thus allowing these to be invoked against everyone else. After a long period of feudalism, a sophisticated property law system in itself, the French and American Revolutions promised us liberty, equality, brotherhood and the pursuit of happiness.
However, crisis after crisis in the past decades has brought to the forefront a negative side that remained previously hidden for many. Increased occurrence of natural disasters, global financial and health crises all show that the current way in which property is used creates many undesired effects.That realisation brings us to a crossroad where we need to decide how to move forward. Do we continue with our current application of property law, thus likely increasing wealth, but also continuing to negatively affect climate change by how we use our property and continuing to accept inequality in who is able to hold and accrue property, or do we seek to reconfigure our property law to incorporate change? We can and must so on by examining these negative effects (reckoning), by visualizing what a different system of property law should look like (resilience) and by taking the first steps to rewire the law of property (reform).

Bram Akkermans (1979) is Professor of Property Law at the Faculty of Law at Maastricht University and Director of Studies of Dutch language undergraduate programs. His research focuses on sustainability and property law and investigates how legal theory, constitutional law and doctrinal property law can be used to contribute towards more sustainable societies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherEleven International publishing
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)978-94-6236-289-5
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2022

Publication series

SeriesMaastricht Law Series


  • Property Law
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable Property Law
  • Property Theory

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