A Tale of Three Takings: Taking Analysis in Land Use Regulation in the United States, Australia and Canada
78 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2006
Date Written: September 2006
The roots of the legal systems of the United States, Australia and Canada spring from a common English heritage in which protection of property is a prominent feature. Within these societies, when government expropriates private property, there is a presumption and, in some cases, a constitutional compulsion to compensate the owner. In the 1920s, the United States Supreme Court deviated from the principle in American and English law that compensation is required only when a government acquires a legal interest in or takes possession of property. In Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, the Supreme Court found that regulating the use of property, in that case Pennsylvania Coal's mineral rights, may also require compensation if the regulation goes too far. Claims of regulatory taking did not become common, however, until the 1970s when land use and environmental regulation became pervasive. Property rights advocates, not only in the United States but also in Australia and Canada, sought more extensive protection when these regulations seriously devalued or limited the use of land. By the 1990s, cases in both Australia and Canada seemed to follow the lead of Mahon by requiring compensation for land use regulations that seriously devalued mineral rights. This paper surveys and compares the development of the concept of regulatory taking in the United States, Australia and Canada, and discusses each country's struggle to balance important public interests reflected in land use and environment regulation with protection of private property, and to develop a consistent theory of regulatory taking.
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