The Office of Ownership
63 University of Toronto Law Journal 418 (2013)
52 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2012 Last revised: 3 Dec 2014
Date Written: August 28, 2012
I defend an account of ownership as a legal office, according to which the rights and duties of a given owner are not the rights and duties of some individual person, but rather the rights and duties of the office of owner. This view of ownership has several advantages. First, it allows us to manage an apparent conflict between the fact that ownership rights and duties seem to be bilaterally structured and the fact that ownership rights and duties are merely contingently the rights and duties of a given person. Second, the account explains the common law’s distinction between a real covenant and a contract: the covenant is an agreement entered into by the owner as officeholder and thus binds future officeholders by running with the land, the contract is a merely personal agreement which cannot bind future owners. Third, the account can help to explain some of the borderline cases about what could count as the subject of property rights.
Keywords: property theory, ownership, offices, servitudes, restrictive covenants
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