PROSTITUTION AND PUBLIC NUISANCE: DESPERATE MEASURES AND THE LIMITS OF CIVIL ADJUDICATION
AbstractThis article considers a recent episode in the continuing effort to define an appropriate legal response to the problem of street prostitution. The central issue addressed is whether, given the apparent failure of the criminal law to control public prostitution, there may be some role that can usefully be played by the common law. After an overview of the traditional common law and criminal approaches to the problem, this article examines in detail the recent suggestion that some forms of prostitution might amount to a common law nuisance. The focus throughout is upon the institutional and remedial questions raised by this suggestion. Prostitution is a social problem with which existing legal institutions are ill-equipped to deal. The purpose of this article is not to point to any correct solution, but rather to trace the route by which the law arrived at its current state and to articulate principles which place the legal issues in context. The final sections address the question of whether the common law is capable of expansion to meet the problem of street solicitation and, through an analysis of nuisance law and the inherent limitations of civil adjudication, seek to explore the costs of such an expansion.
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