Dr hab. Arkadiusz Barut
University of Wroclaw
Abstract: The subject of the article is an analysis of civil courts’ case law in terms formulated by Giorgio Agamben and Judith Butler, that is, in terms of law as a ‘state of exception’, a purely arbitrary practice that appears to be a parody of law. The author indicates aspects of such ‘law’: the blurring of the boundaries between the law and purely factual activities (in Agamben’s terminology: ‘life’), which may take the form of violence that no longer cares for its legitimacy or which reduces the law to ‘pure form’, that is, the creation and application of rules completely in abstract from their ethical evaluation and social consequences. In Foucault’s terminology, both these processes can be represented as a rebirth of sovereignty in the field of governmentality, the parody of the law being justified by the needs of population management, but in reality it is the result of a power’s strive for self-preservation. There are, as Butler defines, petty sovereigns who allegedly only quasi-technically apply the law articulated in full in the statute, and in fact act fully arbitrarily. One of their methods is to simulate the creation or application of law by taking away a particular meaning from words, in particular from legal concepts. The result is a departure from the idea of separation of powers and the postulate of empowerment of the addressee of legal norms, sometimes preserving the fiction of the latter’s agency as a kind of Agamben’s ‘pure form of law’. The author states that an example of such a process is the case law of the Polish Supreme Court and general courts regarding the possibility of acquisitive prescription of transmission easement by transmission companies. He indicates that the position that won in this case law completely deviates from the contents of the statute and the well-established understanding of civil law concepts, with the result of depriving property owners of their legal rights.
Keywords: state of exception, Agamben, Butler, transmission easement
Published: Number 1(19)/2019, pp. 5-14