Post-Communist Restitution and the Rule of Law

Post-Communist Restitution and the Rule of Law

Post-Communist Restitution and the Rule of Law

Post-Communist Restitution and the Rule of Law

Excerpt

It was a long time ago, even before I got admitted to the law school, when I had my first encounter with property. My grandmother, she decided to submit her claim for my great-grandfather's 3 hectares land, taken by the communist authorities sometime in the foggy 50's. Greatgrandfather had, besides his land, four children—some of them passed away in the meantime—each with numerous offspring on their turn. So it proved to be a truly painful experience to contact everyone, to clarify the succession and to nominate a common representative. Especially, that there was a deadline for submitting such claims, a deadline fortunately manifold prolonged by our government. All in all, a rather boring story, and if I could have read Penner then, I would most probably agree with him: property is a bore. Of course, none of us had, thus the only thing we read was the confusion on each other's faces, when the mayor of a dusty village in a God-forgotten corner of Transylvania told us that there is no available land to restitute anymore. And even if there would be any, it is impossible to identify the old boundary signs. Something smelled fishy: as if the government wanted to restore a landscape that did not exist anymore. A quick family council decided that we can live very well without those 3 hectares, as the costs of a legal action would most probably exceed the worth of the land. Obviously, my family is not exactly an idealist type. If it were to be so, it could have happily filed one of the about 1 million lawsuits generated by the Romanian land restitution scheme.

Katherine Verdery, The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist
Transylvania
, Cornell University Press, 2003, p. 79-93.

J. E. Penner, Property in Law, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 1.

Ibid., p. 97.

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