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Review: Outer Space Law

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Outer Space Law: Legal Policy and Practice
by Yanul Abul Failat and Anél Ferreira-Snyman
Globe Law and Business, 2017
hardcover, 300 pp.
ISBN 978-1911078197

The field of outer space law as a legal discipline has become increasingly prevalent with the expansion of space law beyond the four original international treaties to domestic space laws enacted by sovereign states. The extension of space law into the domestic front, and the resulting regulations it has created and will continue to create, has made space law one of the bubbles of law that practitioners need to be aware of. As space law grows, it is prudent that legal and policy practitioners at the very least understand the issues involved in space law and how those issues might affect their clients, whether they be private individuals and companies or government agencies. That being the case, books on the growing field of outer space law are numerous but fall into two distinct categories: they are either intended as a treatise for academic purposes or a resource for practitioners. Indeed, the former outnumber the latter, with academia as the intended audience. Every so often a work comes along that bridges the two categories. Such is the case with this anthology.

Law and policy are co-joined, but policy tends to be the unappreciated doppelganger.

Outer Space Law is a well-read work aimed at both academia and practitioners. It is a work that compiles essays discussing not only the fundamentals of international space law but also discusses the domestic end. In doing so, Outer Space Law does not provide the reader the minutia of space law but rather the rudiments to give the reader a foundation for further study. Indeed, no source is one-stop-shopping in any legal field and Outer Space Law is no exception.

The aspect of the book that its title does not reflect are the essays dealing with the myriad of policy issues facing the development and use of outer space. Law and policy are co-joined, but policy tends to be the unappreciated doppelganger. Certainly, policy’s second-string mention in the title of this book would suggest such is the case here, but the inclusion of policy matters amongst its legal content belies its secondary mention in the title and more than makes up for the wants from the title.

While Outer Space Law is substantively about the law and policy of outer space, the real treasure is its contributors. The book is penned not by a single author but represents the contribution of numerous essayists who represent the budding generation of legal and policy minds who are influencing, and will continue to influence, the legal environment and canon of outer space. Indeed, it is the introduction of this new crop of legal and policy professionals that is the real cake of Outer Space Law and their insight within the icing.

Of course, the piper has to be paid, and such is true for Outer Space Law. The volume’s price is not unsubstantial, but also not unreasonable. Certainly, the practicality of purchasing this book is subjective to the reader, but the value it will provide to the reader will make the cost an investment for a work that will become a worthy addition to a comprehensive legal and policy library.