Owners' Counsel of America Participates in International Property Rights Conference in Beijing

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The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference made its international debut October 14-15, 2011 at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing, China.

The Eighth Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference took place October 14-15, 2011, at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing

The Eighth Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference took place October 14-15, 2011, at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing

While there continues to exist significant contrasts in the structure of government between the U.S. and China, private property ownership appears to be a cornerstone in China’s recent reforms.

The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference completed its international debut October 15, 2011 in China. Legal scholars, jurists, and practitioners from the United States and China converged at Tsinghua University in Beijing to discuss and debate the evolution of property rights on a global scale.    The Owners’ Counsel of America is delighted that our eminent domain attorneys were invited to participate in this prestigious event.

Owners’ Counsel Virginia Member, Joseph Waldo, was on the Conference Planning Committee and moderated three Conference panels. It was his vision to bring the Conference, usually held at William & Mary Law School, to an international stage: “The Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference is our nation’s only conference that focuses on the interplay of our civil rights to our property rights. This topic is becoming increasingly important worldwide. Because China is in the process of developing new property rights protections, it was the ideal venue for this year’s conference.” A major success of the Conference, he contends, was that it “placed global emphasis on the important role property rights play in our societies and in each person’s individual liberty.”

As Chinese scholars discussed the impacts of China’s new, formal recognition of private property rights, Robert Thomas, Owners’ Counsel Hawaii Member, blogged live from Beijing. Thomas commented, “…this is a propitious time to have this conference, and have it here.” He wrote of his surprise that the Chinese panelists were so frank: “My impression was that it was not acceptable to make express criticism of the government, and even that there might be repercussions for doing so. But apparently, the ability of academics, at least, to say what they think, some of them quite critical of existing policies or actions, would be recognizable to western faculty schooled in the tradition of academic independence.”

Other Owners’ Counsel eminent domain attorneys who participated in the Conference included Alan Ackerman (Michigan), Andrew Brigham (Florida), James Thompson (Maryland), Leslie Fields (Colorado), and James Burling of the Pacific Legal Foundation. Mr. Ackerman shared the stage with China’s most revered panelist, Ping Jiang, former president of China’s University of Political Science and Law, in a panel that focused upon Justice O’Connor’s property rights decisions. Mr. Brigham, Ms. Fields and Mr. Thompson brought the eminent domain lawyer’s point of view to light in a roundtable discussion entitled “How Practitioners Shape the Law.” Mr. Burling participated in a discussion concerning the relationship between property rights and the environment.

Reflecting upon the Conference, Andrew Brigham, remarked, “While there continues to exist significant contrasts in the structure of government between the U.S. and China, private property ownership appears to be a cornerstone in China’s recent reforms. However, China will have to build for itself a paradigm for property rights that is truly Chinese given this time and place in the country’s emergence as a global leader.”

The 2011 Brigham-Kanner Prize was awarded to retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In light of China’s new and increasing protections of private property rights, Justice O’Connor was a fitting choice for this year’s Prize and may be seen as an exemplar: it is possible for views and opinions on property rights to improve with time. Although Justice O’Connor was unable to be present in China, she graciously accepted the award in absentia with videotaped remarks in which she discussed the United States’ history of property rights protections, China’s emerging laws and her own property rights decisions. She concluded with the hope “that we will all continue to develop mechanisms for preserving rights in property for the benefit of all.”

The Eighth Annual Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference in Beijing was an exciting and informative conference, heralded by all as a success, and the Owners’ Counsel of America is pleased to have participated in it.

ABOUT OWNERS' COUNSEL OF AMERICA:

The Owners’ Counsel of America, http://www.ownerscounsel.com, is a nationwide network of eminent domain attorneys dedicated to protecting the rights of private property owners large and small, locally and nationally, and to advancing the cause of property rights. The lawyers affiliated with Owners’ Counsel are in private practice in nearly every state and represent owners against federal, state, and local governments, utilities, redevelopment authorities and other entities possessing the power of eminent domain.

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Catherine Newman
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