In his remarkable, path-breaking new book, Peter Sparkes takes stock of the development of a distinctive body of European land law, taking as his starting point the idea that methods of land-holding permitted by a legal system both shape and reflect the attitudes of the land owners and society in general. However it quickly becomes very difficult to test that idea when the society in question is governed by an internal market composed of 30 countries (the EU-27, including Bulgaria and Romania, and the EEA-3), whose property systems differ so markedly and which reflect such widely differing cultures. Yet the internal market has already effected a gradual equalisation and standardisation across Europe as foreign capital spreads to create equality of yield.
"We all become better off by joining a larger trading block but the social consequences will be profound: Brits will need to emigrate to the continent to afford a home, Bulgarians will need to make way for them along the Black Sea coast, and title deeds will be reshuffled all over Europe on a giant Monopoly board" writes the author in his preface, before embarking on a dispassionate examination of the beginning of that process of profound change. The opening chapters are devoted to an explanation of how the internal market has created a substantive European land law. Chapter 3 examines the rise of a distinctive European land law, and the development of conflicts principles applying to recovery of land. Chapters 5 to 9 on the marketing and sale of land focus upon Community competence on consumer protection. The decision to treat land as a product like any other in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive will have wide ranging and far reaching implications and, apart from marketing of land and of timeshares, other chapters deal with conveyancing, contracting and the emerging market in mortgage credit.
The book concludes with a miscellany of conflicts rules which are gradually coalescing and form the elements from which a substantive European land law can be forged. A number of topics which it is not possible to cover in detail (VAT, other taxes, environmental controls and agriculture) are touched on briefly, and the same is true of international aspects of trusts and succession.
Peter Sparkes is Professor of Property Law at the University of Southampton.
1 Land as a European Commodity Market Culture Capital Club Outside the Capital Club Other Europes Cross-border Transactions Capital Freedom Land as Capital Land Transactions Nomenclaturised Movement of Landowners Factors Generating Movement of Buyers Business Rights to Buy Land Workers Self-supporters Market Elements 2 Controls on European Buyers Restrictions and Controls Military Regions Second Homes Agricultural Land and Forests Direct and Indirect Controls Justification of Controls Authorisation and Declaration Schemes Swiss Controls 3 Towards a European Land Law? National and European Laws Immovables The Site Selection of Land Law Property of the European Institutions Respect for Territoriality Subsidiarity Fundamental Rights in the EU Specific Fundamentals Convergence A Substantive Miscellany Value Added Tax Single Farm Payment Special Agricultural Regimes Dairy Towards What? 4 Actions Affecting Land Europeanisation of Actions European Conflicts Club Provisional Measures Exclusive Forum over Land Trespass Used to Assert Title Public Registers Tenancies, Holiday Lets and Timeshares Personal Actions 5 Marketing Land Pointillism Consumption of Land Unfair Commercial Practices Affecting Land Doorstep Selling of Land Distance Rentals Unfair Marketing Practices Unfair Advertising and Statements Internet Advertising (e-Commerce) Information in an Invitation to Purchase Information about Distance Contractors Withdrawal Rights Credit Cancellation Remediation and Reform 6 Timeshare Regulation of Timeshare Marketing Timeshares and Timeshare-likes Information Withdrawal Rights Timeshare Vehicles Unregulated Aspects Cross-border Timesharing Reform 7 Conveyancing Conveyancers and Lawyers Practice Rights and Qualification Mechanics of Transfer Registration Laundering Activity Confiscation Orders Conveyancers as Launderers Conveyancers as Cops Customer Due Diligence Reporting Internet Advertising by Conveyancers 8 Contracts Advanced E-Signatures Simple E-Signatures Buying Land from Websites Unfair Terms Legislation Unfairness of Terms European Contract Law The Contract/Property Interface 9 Mortgages and Debt Mortgage Credit European Mortgage Markets Information Rights Consumer Protection Security Mortgage Procedures Primary and Secondary Lending Secured Rights on Cross-border Insolvency Main (Europe-wide) Insolvency Secondary (Territorial) Insolvency Judgment Debts in the Judgment State Judgment Debts in the Enforcing State 10 Contract Conflicts Conflicts and Land Contracts Property Core Choice of Site-based Law Site-based Selection Non-site Contracts Choice of Law and Forum Anti-contractual Claims Home Court Forum 11 Family Property Europeanisation of Family Law Connection to the Family Family Law Formality for Testation Patterns of Testation Succession Trust Vehicles Trust Forum Trust Law Interaction of Trust Law and Forum 12 Outro