in Daniel Matthews & Scott Veitch (eds), Law, Obligation, Community (Routledge, June 2018), Chapter 5
Introduction: The Panama Papers exposé went some way to revealing the mechanisms and magnitude of global asset distribution as a way of circumventing state accountability techniques (Obermayer & Obermaier 2016). Two things stand out about this: one is the exposure to publicity of that which had hitherto been secret, and the other, that despite such secrecy much of what was exposed was legal. In the following, I attempt to understand the interplay of legal concepts and practices that make people, assets and obligations disappear from the radar of state and public accountability. I argue that the work of obligations and regulation is, ironically, key to this. I then consider how this ‘duty free’ scenario reveals the asymmetrical treatment of property rights and social rights, the conceptual labour that underpins this and some implications with respect to austerity and free riders.