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PROPERTY LAW – LECTURE 1 (DRAFT 1) Table of Contents Two Concepts of Property – Two ways to think about property, as an idea and as an institution. Content – Examine the content of property. Justification – How we justify property as an institution. Regulation – Property is something that requires regulation. Divisibility – There are many ways to structure our property relationships. Implementation in a Legal System Two concepts Property is both a concept (theory) and a legal institution (cases and statutes). ‘Property is how people envision it – that is, what concept they have of it’ and also a ‘social, political and legal institution, implemented to resolve particular conflicts in society.’ o Laura S Underkuffler, The Idea of Property: Its Meaning and Power (2003) 121. This treats property as a dual nature. Content – There is no agreed definition of what property is. Property is about the distribution, allocation and control of scarce resources as individuals. So property is linked with scarce resources. o It exists when there is too much demand for supply and that there is not enough to go around. o So property only comes into play when there is an issue with scarcity. The content of property includes four critical aspects: o Things; o Rights; o Social Relationships; o Spatial dimension. Property as things ‘The intuitive appeal of making things the mediator of the relationship is evidenced by the pervasiveness of ‘thingness’ in the layperson’s understanding of property.’ Page 1 of 5
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o David Lametti, ‘The Concept of Property: Relations Through Objects of Social Wealth’ (2003) 53 University of Toronto Law Journal 325: 354. It can also be about intangible things too, rather than just tangible things.
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