10 July, 2010
Public health: We are learning that our right to own property is not an absolute one. The Constitution of Anguilla sets out a number of exceptions when it is permissible for a law to provide for our property to be taken away from us. The tenth exception is when the property is in a dangerous state or injurious to health.
We don't use asbestos in
Anguilla in building, but it used to be common in some parts of the world. If the Anguilla House of Assembly were to pass a planning law which outlawed the use of asbestos and provided that if we were ordered to take down an asbestos polluted house, and that, if we refused to do so, the Government could demolish the house and dispose of the waste, we would not be able to say that law was unconstitutional.
We can appeal the decision, or we can get judicial review of the decision, if we say that it was not a fair or reasonable decision. But, we cannot say that the law is unconstitutional, nor that the taking of the property was unconstitutional because it would have been passed for the protection of the health of ourselves and of the public. The Constitution permits such a law as a public health exception to our fundamental right to own property.