Eyes in the Sky

There’s a common complaint that the law cannot respond quickly enough to keep pace with a changing world.  A recent column from Christopher Coble had me wondering if that is really correct.

Mr Coble noted that recreational use of drones presents issues concerning both property rights and privacy.  Both of these have been considered in long established caselaw.  The 1978 decision in Bernstein v Skyviews & General Ltd [1978] 1 QB 479 (Eng.) found that a landowner has only the rights needed for the ordinary and reasonable enjoyment of their land.  Further, the 1993 case of Bradley v Wingnut Films Ltd [1993] 1 NZLR 415 (NZ) concluded that a not-unlimited right to privacy exists in respect of unwanted filming (and, ex hypothesi, observation).

One could say that at least some of the thought going into regulating drone use at present is a case of reinventing the wheel.

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Casablanca-on-the-Brazos: the decision in Dejoria v Maghreb Petroleum Exploration SA

David Coale at Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox has put up an interesting casenote on the recent Fifth Circuit decision of Dejoria v Maghreb Petroleum Exploration SA.  The decision looks at the requirements for Texas courts to decline to recognise judgments of foreign courts.

I imagine many courts in the Western world would be very reluctant to refuse to recognise judgments from courts in the third world without strong evidence that the decision in issue was (in effect) a figleaf for simple expropriation.  There may be a cautionary tale for them in the opprobrium heaped on the decision of In Re Southern Rhodesia [1919] AC 211.  In that case the Privy Council said that –

Some tribes are so low in the scale of social organization that their usages and conceptions of rights and duties are not to be reconciled with the institutions or the legal ideas of civilized society. Such a gulf cannot be bridged.

Arguments over which societies and societies are barbaric and which are civilised makes for a fun (if fairly Arts-Faculty-common-room) parlour game.  The need to decide which Courts are capable of acting fairly and which are not may be one of the only places where that debate perhaps still has teeth.