Anglo-American Land Law: Diverging Developments from a Shared History - Part II: How Anglo-American Land Law Diverged after American Colonization and Independence
67 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2008
Date Written: July 28, 2008
This series of three articles describes the history of land law shared by the British and American legal systems, and how and why these legal traditions have diverged from each other in modern times.
This Article - part 2 in this series - describes the legal process used to establish British colonies in North America and the adoption or adaptation of English land law in the original thirteen colonies. It also describes the development of land law in each country from formal separation until England's massive property law reforms of the 1920s.
Major developments in English property law after the watershed changes that the Statute of Uses introduced in 1536 included abolition of tenures completed by the Tenures Abolition Act of 1660, establishment of legal protections for leaseholds, modernization of future interests, and acceptance of succession of land interests among successive generations within a family. The rule against perpetuities was created and defined, trusts emerged as one of the truly brilliant inventions of English common law, mortgage law matured, and an elaborate law of servitude - including easements, covenants, profits, and licenses--arose from the law governing incorporeal hereditaments.
Simultaneously, England's North American colonies established and transformed the common law of land in England. The development of colonial land law may be usefully compared with changes in English land law occurring during the same period. This Article discusses this comparison and the development of Anglo-American property law up to the 1920s, detailing the most important features of those developments and the circumstances that caused the differences.
Keywords: Legal history, real property, land law, common law, English property rights, American real property law, colonial law
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