Fragmentation of Property Rights: A Functional Interpretation of the Law of Servitudes
University of California Hastings College of Law; Ghent University - Center for Advanced Studies in Law & Economics
University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna
Global Jurist Frontiers, Vol. 3, No. 1, March 25, 2003
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-24
Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 284
This Article argues that recent developments in economic theory provide a new rationale for the dichotomous approach of land use arrangements in the law of servitudes that is almost universal in the modern Western legal tradition. The treatment of certain land-related promises as enforceable contracts between parties, rather than real rights that run with the land in perpetuity, can be explained as an attempt to minimize the transaction and strategic costs resulting from dysfunctional property arrangements. As demonstrated by the Authors, benchmark doctrines such as touch and concern, and the civil law principles of prediality and numerus clausus, have served as instruments to limit excessive or dysfunctional fragmentation of property rights. Section I of this Article describes the dichotomous approach of land use arrangements in the law of servitudes in Common Law and Civil Law systems. Section II provides a functional explanation of the legal rules in this area. Section III documents and explains the changing approach to land use law in both Common Law and Civil Law jurisdictions. Section IV discusses the role of property law in a changing economy. Section V reflects on the appropriate scope of freedom of contract in the law of servitudes. Section VI concludes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: property law, servitudes, fragmentation, anticommons
JEL Classification: K10, K11, K19, D62, D70
Date posted: May 22, 2003
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