• Robert Spicer

The criminalisation of private landlordism and law practice

THE CRIMINALISATION OF PRIVATE LANDLORDISM AND LAW PRACTICE

Can it be done? Has it ever been done?

The 1959 Cuban revolution destroyed the private practice of most Havana law firms. The practice of law was considered to be a parasitic bourgeois profession. The Cuban Law on the Organization of the Judicial System (1973) eliminated the private practice of law. Legal services are provided by bufetos colectivos (collective law offices) which are the exclusive providers of legal services.

Again, in Cuba, the private renting of housing was abolished after the 1959 revolution. Housing is a public service with the state as primary landlord. Housing law has the primary social objective of providing shelter to all citizens. It is based primarily on the recognition of the social function of housing as opposed to its commercial or investment value. There are virtually no homeless people in Cuba.

Article 1, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right of property and protects individuals from arbitrary interference by the state with their possessions. However, it recognises the right of the state to control the use of and to expropriate the property of individuals in the public interest. The taking of property in pursuance of a policy calculated to enhance social justice can properly be described as being in the public interest. If Parliament were to pass legislation which criminalised private landlordism and the private practice of law, this could arguably amount to a policy calculated to enhance social justice.



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