I've finally had a chance to peruse the recently-published book Takings International: A Comparative Perspective on Land Use Regulations and Compensation Rights (ABA Section of State and Local Government Law 2010; $95 regular price; $75 for SLG members).
Takings International is about how 13 jurisdictions worldwide treat what we in the U.S. call "regulatory takings." For those of us who have a keen interest in this area of law, this book is a goldmine of information about how the rest of the world deals with the issue. For those who may not be quite as interested, it is still a fascinating survey of how others treats the modern regulatory state's impact on private property.
The book is headlined by Professor Rachelle Alterman (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology), and contains chapters authored by other experts on regulatory takings. It is divided up into several sections. In Part I, Professor Alterman provides an overview of the book, its methodology, and (in the most interesting part to me) how the U.S. property rights debate is viewed by others. Parts II -- IV classify the 13 jurisdictions by the strength of their compensation systems. Canada, the U.K, France and Greece are considered "Countries with Minimal Compensation Rights." Finland, Austria and the United States are treated in Part II ("Countries with Moderate or Ambiguous Compensation Rights"), and Poland, Germany, Sweden, Israel, and the Netherlands are considered "Countries with Broad Compensation Rights." Visit this page for the Table of Contents and a pdf of Chapter I (scroll to the bottom of the page).
For those of us down in the trenches of regulatory takings and eminent domain law, this book provides a welcome perspective. We can easily become mired in the minutiae of the latest takings case without appreciating the fact that there may be other ways of approaching the issue. I found particularly enlightening Alterman's discussion of how the "European" and "American" approaches are often wrongly perceived:
In academic or professional discussions -- and even in some academic publications -- one sometimes encounters Americans who refer to the "European approach" to regulatory takings, as contrasted with the "American approach." The image is that Europe has a unitary approach that offers less protection of property rights than does the United States. There seems to be an image that European countries as a group do not recognize the concept of regulatory takings or do not regard these as entailing compensation by the public purse. On the opposite side, one encounters non-American practitioners and scholars -- even from English-speaking countries -- whose image of of U.S. takings law is that it offers landowners extensive protection from downzoning and generous compensation rights. This view is part of a broader image of the United States as offering extensive protection of property in general.
The evidence from the 13-country study shows that both images are far from correct.
Regulatory Takings at 77. The chapters on each jurisdiction's law have similar insights.
Furthermore, at the upcoming Spring Meeting of the State and Local Government Law Section in Miami (April 30, 2010), I will be moderating a panel discussion of Takings International and the issues it raises.
Professor Alterman will be present for a book signing from 5-6 pm on April 29, and will be participating on the panel the following morning. She will lead off with a presentation on the purpose, method, and key findings of the book's 13-country comparative approach. Also on the panel are Professor Russell Brown (University of Alberta) and Professor Bryan Schwartz (University of Manitoba) to discuss Canada's approach, Professor David Callies (University of Hawaii) to discuss Asia and Pacific approaches, and Professor Tom Roberts (Wake Forest University) discussing the U.S.'s approach. The panelists will focus on the extent to which comparative knowledge on the laws and practices of 13 countries located on four continents detailed in Takings International can provide fresh prisms for the raging “property rights” controversy in the United States.
I hope you can join us at the meeting to meet Professor Alterman and to participate in the panel discussion. Even if you cannot, Takings International is a recommended addition to your bookshelf.