Using contract for the environment: Vanessa Monteillet’s PhD dissertation

No wonder this PhD is published as a book by Dalloz; the most important firm for legal issues.This outstanding book of 722 pp open the French legal setting to the possibiliyy of using private law as an alternative and/or substitute to regulation. This looks like a U-turn to the French legal tradition which think that central government is the sole source of law i.e. Public law which enacting regulation is competent to solve environmental conflict outside private law, more or less akin to common law.

The author discovers the importance of contract which is the province of private law for its implementation and conflict resolution.

Of course in the US common law has been criticized as unable to solve pure public good and since the 1970s the Federal government issued many statutes for water, air, land use ….However Common Law, based on the sanctity of private property, is more and more considered as the tool against taking regulations.

Richard Epstein explains the situation “ Environmental protection was not a distinct field of law before 1970. Since that time, it has become a growth industry and has enjoyed widespread political support that only recently has shown signs of fraying at the edges. One characteristic of the modern environmental movement is its manifest distrust of private law approaches to environmental protection, which it finds insufficient to deal with of such moral, aesthetics, and cultural urgency. The result has been a collection of rules and statutes that quite literally defy convenient summarization…” (Simple rules for a complex world,, Harvard University Press, 1995)

Monteillet’s book is the corner stone for rejuvenating private law for environmental protection and conservation and limiting the ever extension of statutes too often costly, inefficient and limiting individual liberty .

No doubt that French and common law lawyers should cooperate for middle of the ground solutions to better solve environmental issues.

Max Falque