François Ost

Time and the Law Publication date : November 1, 1999

Society and the legal system are constantly having to address the issue of time in various forms: amnesty or imprescriptibility, emergency measures or long-term solutions, acquired rights or retroactive laws, respect of precedents or reversals in jurisprudence.
How can stability and change be balanced? How can the collective memory be forged while discarding a traumatic or obsolete past? How can rules be laid down for the future, while retaining the flexibility to revise them when necessary?
Time is money, says the popular adage. Le Temps du Droit argues, on the contrary, that time is meaning and significance, and that it needs to be instituted rather than earned. François Ost lays down the groundwork and conditions for a public time, one of the essential stakes of a democracy.

François Ost is a lawyer and philosopher specialising in human rights and environmental law. He teaches in Brussels (Saint Louis faculty) and directs the Académie Européenne de Théorie du Droit. He is also the president of the Fondation pour les Générations Futures.