Of earthquakes, red zones and property rights: the quake outcasts case

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Page, J & Brower, A 2014, 'Of earthquakes, red zones and property rights: the quake outcasts case', New Zealand Universities Law Review, vol. 26, no. 1

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This is a short commentary on the Court of Appeal’s 2013 decision in the Quake Outcasts case, and its implications for property. Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery v Fowler Developments Ltd considered the validity of the red zones of condemned land, and of the government’s offer to pay 50 per cent of the value of uninsured red zone land. Perhaps unintentionally, Quake Outcasts says something about our elusive relationship with property. If property were merely a commodity, there would have been no 50 per cent offers in the first place, let alone subsequent litigation with underlying themes of individual and communitarian fairness and equality. Quake Outcasts underscores the “thinness” of property’s central logic and reveals that core assumptions held about property are not as “totalizing and individualizing” as we suppose.

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