Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Faculty of Law


Anneke Smit




This thesis evaluated the eminent domain laws of the top-ranking nations in property rights based on the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey: Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland. The United States is not top-ranking in property rights and serves as the base comparator given its history and jurisprudence on property. The thesis results prove the imprecision in measuring property rights without evaluating the substantive legal protections and the perceptions of the Survey participants. Switzerland appears to have the strongest quality and quantity of property safeguards. Switzerland is a federation with a long-standing history of subnational governments protecting landowner rights, similar to the United States. Switzerland may serve as the model eminent domain jurisdiction for civil code countries with parliamentary supremacy, and the U.S. may serve as the model jurisdiction for common law countries with constitutional supremacy. Although lacking in unamendable substantive protections, New Zealand and Singapore demonstrate that general property rights are not a prerequisite to legislating a stable, equitable eminent domain process that would mitigate the displacement of landowners. They introduce the baseline protections for common law or civil law countries, given how many judges enforce the eminent domain legislation without a challenge. The numerical value given to the top-ranking countries in the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey insufficiently reflects the substantive legal protections between other higher-performing countries. The specific numerical value awarded to each country should be given less persuasive authority in making nuanced comparisons on property rights between countries when the Survey is the primary data source of the comparison.