Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Private property again

Following yesterday's post on Private Places I had an extended discussion on Twitter with Scotbot.

Our discussion was connected with this piece in the Guardian and especially this comment:

It may be privately owned, but in Scottish law it still counts as public space under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

Section133, Public Place:

"public place" means any place (whether a thoroughfare or not) to which the public have unrestricted access and includes:

1. the doorways or entrances of premises abutting on any such place; and 2. any common passage, close, court, stair, garden or yard pertinent to any tenement or group of separately owned houses

So in this way the street which is Multrees Walk is a public space.

There is also a suggestion the street has been adopted by the City of Edinburgh Council, in which case it is definitely not a private space.

The limitations of Twitter's 140 character limit has led to my posting this further message.

Given Section 133 it's certainly the case that the owners of Multrees Walk are out of order and need to retrain their security guards. Maybe this is another case of Scots law being ignored by English companies although perhaps England also has a Section 133 equivalent.

But none of this alters the point that I was trying to make.

As a keen photographer I'm happy to be able to take photos in as many places as possible. But as a libertarian I am in favour of property rights and by that I mean rights based on the libertarian non-aggression principle rather than those that happen to have been passed by any particular legislature. Needless-to-say I'm not advocating disobeying man-made legislation but arguing in favour of a natural rights approach. I'm not at all happy about the blurring of the rights of private property owners that Section 133 brings into play.

Here's a personal example. Where I live the flat owners each have a dedicated parking space. Given the market rate that non car users are able to achieve I'd guess that around 10% of the cost of my property purchase went on the parking space. But if one leaves the bollard down or has it damaged we've been told that we are unable to take meaningful action against parking infringers. Incidentally, a (sadly late) neighbour once told us that the infringers of our private but public spaces included bankers and policemen!

The point I was trying to make yesterday was that it's far better to rely on rigid rules that give private owners full control of their property than to hope that a benevolent state will look after us. Large numbers of competing private providers of spaces open to the public are more likely to produce the good life for all of us (including photographers) than a reliance on the state. The recent police war on photographers is a good example. Having competing legislatures is a second best alternative to that given by private property rights. But competing legislatures are better than monopolistic ones. That's why I favour devolution and why I am quite warm to the idea of independence.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

David Farrer
The individual spaces have each owner's flat number and we all have a key for our own bollard. I seem to remember that our late neighbour somehow worked out which bank employed one of the regular infringers and threatened to "out" him! He wasn't seen again.    

20 October 2010, 15:27:30 GMT+01:00
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The parking issue you identify is an interesting one. The legal position is dependent on your title. Sometimes the "individual" parking spaces are not individual but merely a shared property right (common property) with all other owners. This allows all co-owners to use any part, and arguably to give a licence to any other. If the space is individually owned then any person who parks in your space is treapassing (the interference being temporary rather than permanent). Trespass is a delict in Scots law (contrary to the assertions of some that there is no law of trespass) and you can either (a) interdict future conduct (if the same person is using the space regularly the appropriate threshold would probably be satisfied); or (b) claim damages (although the quantum would ordinarily be such that an action would not be worthwhile).

19 October 2010, 15:21:56 GMT+01:00