"Legal at the time"?: Companies, governments and reparations for Mauritian slavery


Croucher, R. and Michel, D. 2014. "Legal at the time"?: Companies, governments and reparations for Mauritian slavery. Journal of African Law. 58 (1), pp. 89-108. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0021855313000193
Title"Legal at the time"?: Companies, governments and reparations for Mauritian slavery
AuthorsCroucher, R. and Michel, D.

This article critiques the “legal at the time” argument used by states and companies which historically practised slavery to defend themselves against claims for restitution, examining the Mauritian case. Although slavery was largely legal there before its abolition by the British, torts were common under slavery and, during the years of historic rupture, 1794–1839, when the local élite defied first French and then English law, generated systemic unlawful activity. Most types of legal action for restitution for slavery face formidable difficulties; pursuing reparations supported by broad legal arguments may therefore be a more viable route. Slavery may be argued to have been an illegitimate endeavour in itself. While sympathetic to that view, this article does not pursue it but rather seeks to demonstrate that the “legal at the time” argument against reparations contains significant lacunae even within its restricted terms. It also shows that French constitutional law offers possibilities in the form of rights that are not time-bound.

Research GroupEmployment Relations group
PublisherCambridge University Press
JournalJournal of African Law
Publication dates
Print01 Apr 2014
Online28 Jan 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited26 Sep 2014
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright Statement

This article has been published in a revised form in Journal of African Law, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0021855313000193. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © SOAS, University of London 2014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/s0021855313000193
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