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George Pavlakos

This chapter offers a minimalistic understanding of the Legal Relation, or the relation in which subjects of legal obligation stand. All that is required for the Legal Relation to obtain is that two or more agents are involved in an interaction, which triggers the requirement of consistency between their respective freedoms. Conversely, the author submits that such interaction does not, for its instantiation, necessarily presuppose the existence of political institutions. The view defended stands in stark contrast with the widespread view, shared by positivist and non-positivist lawyers alike, that the legal relation presupposes institutional facts of political community. A powerful objection stemming from that view submits that the enforceability of legal obligations rests on an omnilateral authority, in other words authority that emanates in all those involved in the legal relation. It is this omnilateral dimension of authority that is captured by the institutional element of political organisation and which the author’s conception misses. The chapter discusses and rejects this objection. In closing, with an eye to fleshing out his proposal, the author advances an account of the structure of the obligations generated by the legal relation and indicates how the more familiar institutional legal obligations form part of that structure, and what their relation is to the other non-institutional obligations within it. The account has the potential to introduce a fresh line of support for cosmopolitan views that argue in favour of a global network of legal obligations.