Responses to Property Outlaws
posted by University of Pennsylvania Law Review
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Lee Anne Fennell, Nicole Stelle Garnett, and Laura S. Underkuffler each respond to Eduardo Moisés Peñalver and Sonia K. Katyal’s Property Outlaws, 155 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1095 (2007). In their article, Professors Peñalver and Katyal argue that the violation of property laws (by actors they call “property outlaws”) can enhance the social order. In their view, “the apparent stability and order that property law provides owe much to the destabilizing role of the lawbreaker, who occasionally forces shifts of entitlements and laws.”
Professor Fennell, in her Response, Order with Outlaws?, notes that “most property violations destabilize the social order without producing any significant offsetting benefits.” She argues that in order to maximize the “informational signal that [a property] violation sends,” liability rules, injunctive relief, and supercompensatory penalties can help to “harness the information generated by lawbreakers.”
Professor Garnett, in her Response, Property In-Laws, is skeptical of Peñalver and Katyal’s claim that property outlaws provide beneficial and necessary “shocks” to a system that “has a . . . tendency to become ossified and out of date.” Instead, her intuition is that “outlaws usually respond to instability in a property regime, not the ossified hyper-stability that Peñalver and Katyal fear.” Thus, she suspects that “the evolutionary sequence [of property law] generally proceeds from instability to stability, not from bad stability to instability to good stability as [Peñalver and Katyal] suggest.”
Finally, Professor Underkuffler, in her Response, Lessons from Outlaws, agrees with Peñalver and Katyal that, in a system which disfavors property violations, it is critical to “distinguish positive or desirable property lawbreaking from that which is not.” However, Professor Underkuffler does not believe that relying on efficiency and rectification analyses always provides the correct answer. She wonders whether the true reason for our tolerance of property outlaws is “because the lawbreakers are the losers under the existing regime of property and entitlements, while the targeted owners are winners under the same regime.”
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