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Protection Against Government Takings: Compensation for Regulation? - WP 02/18

Publication Details

  • Protection Against Government Takings: Compensation for Regulation?
  • Published: Sep 2002
  • Status: Current
  • Author: Guerin, Kevin
  • JEL Classification: D23; K11; K32; Q24
  • Hard copy: Available in HTML and PDF formats only.

Protection against Government Takings: Compensation for Regulation?

New Zealand Treasury Working Paper 02/18

Published: September 2002

Author: Kevin Guerin


The paper responds to recent debate in New Zealand on the power of the government to take private property, directly or through regulatory constraints. This aspect of regulation has received less attention in New Zealand than it warrants. This paper addresses the issue of which protections against takings are appropriate, and the role of compensation as a protective device. A taking can be broadly defined an act by which a government assumes or assigns control over all or part of a property right held by a private party. Government regulation is typically not treated as a taking. In practice, compensation is normally required only for physical takings, such as the acquisition of land, and is not available for takings through regulation, such as restricting the right to use land in a particular way. New Zealand has three options for improved protection against takings: a tighter regime for scrutinising the quality of regulation, more restricted takings powers, and extended compensation provisions. The desirability and practicality of a greater role for compensation requires, however, more detailed consideration. The paper aims to stimulate further debate in this area as an aspect of the wider debate on regulatory quality.

Table of Contents

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Table of Contents

List of Tables

1 Introduction

2 The case for and against takings

3 Compensation

4 The boundaries of takings

5 New Zealand application of the takings concept

6 Improving regulatory incentives – alternatives to compensation

7 Conclusion


List of Cases

twp02-18.pdf (636 KB) pp. 31

List of Tables


Comments from colleagues have been much appreciated. Particular thanks also to Bryce Wilkinson for his extensive and highly constructive suggestions.


The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.

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