Simply ownership is the absolute right upon something. The concept of ownership is one of the fundamental juristic concepts, common to all systems of law. Many definitions of Ownership have been given by various writers and reference may be made to some of them.

  1. According to Prof. Keeton, ‘The right of ownership is a conception clearly easy to understand but difficult to define with exactitude. There are two main theories with regard to the idea of ownership. The great exponents of the two views are Austin and Salmond. According to one view, ownership is a relation which subsists between a person and a thing which is the object of ownership. According to the second view, ownership is a relation between a person and a right that is vested in him.’
  • According to Prof. John Austin, ‘Ownership means a right which avails against everyone who is subject to the law conferring the right to put thing to use of indefinite nature.’ In his view ownership is a right in rem which is available against the whole world.
  • According to Prof. Holland, ‘Ownership as, a plenary control over an object.’ He is also followed by the view of Prof. Austin. In
  • According to Prof. Hibbert, ‘Ownership involves four rights and those are (1) the right of using the thing, (2) excluding others from using it, (3) the disposal of the thing and (4) the destruction of the thing.’
  • According to Prof. Markby, ‘If all the rights over a thing were centered in one person, that person would be the owner of the thing; and ownership would express the condition of such person in regard to that thing.
  • According to Prof. Buckland, ‘Ownership is the ultimate right to the thing or what is left when all other rights vested in various people are taken out.’
  • According to Sir Fedric Pollock, ‘Ownership may be described as the entirety of the powers of use and disposal allowed by law.’
  • According to Prof. Salmond, ‘Ownership, in its most comprehensive signification, denotes the relation between a person and right that is vested him.,

Essentials of Ownership:

  1. Ownership is a right and must contain the following five elements of right –

(i)   The person of Inherence

(ii)  The person of Incidence

(iii)  Content of the right

(iv)  Subject-matter of the Right

(v)   Title of the Right

  1. Right to use and enjoy
  1. Right to exhaust (if such nature)
  1. Right to hold and keep possession
  1. Right to not dispossessed by others
  1. Right to transfer
  1. Right to destroy

Modes of acquisition of Ownership:

Ownership may be acquire by the following ways-

  1. By sale
  2. By gift
  3. By exchange
  4. By inheritance
  5. By will
  6. By trust
  7. By operation of law
  8. By prescription
  9. By aliuvion
  10. By jus tertii
  11. By Occupation (res nullius)

Different Kinds of Ownership:

1. Corporal Ownership and Incorporeal Ownership

Corporal Ownership is the ownership of a material object and Incorporeal Ownership is the ownership of an immaterial object. Ownership of house, book or cow is the example of corporal ownership. And the ownership of a copyright, a patent or a trade mark is the example of incorporeal ownership.

2. Trustee’s Ownership and Beneficial Ownership

The ownership arising from the Trust is an instance of duplicate ownership. The trust property is that which is own at the same tine by two persons, Trustee and Beneficiary. The ownership of the Trustee in the trust property is called Trustee’s ownership and the ownership of the Beneficiary in the trust property is called Beneficial ownership   

3.  Legal Ownership and Equitable Ownership

Legal ownership was the ownership recognized and enforced by the Common Law Courts of England. Equitable ownership was the ownership recognized and enforced by the Courts of Chancery of England.

Notes: Prior to the passing of the Judicature Act 1873, there were two separate legal systems of law in England under jurisdictions of two separate courts; the Common Law Court and the Chancery Court.

4. Vested Ownership and Contingent Ownership

A vested ownership creates an immediate interest. It is a right in respect of which all events necessary to vest it completely in the owner have happened. It not depends on fulfillment of any certain condition which must be happens. It is absolute ownership. On the other hand, A contingent ownership does not create an immediate interest. It depends on fulfillment of some certain conditions which must be happens. It is conditional ownership.

5. Sole Ownership and Co-Ownership

A Sole ownership is the ownership owned by the one person only. On the other hand, Co- ownership is an instance of duplicate ownership where two or more persons own one property at a time.

6. Co-Ownership and joint Ownership

Both Co- ownership and Joint ownership are the instance of duplicate ownership where two or more persons own one property at a time. In case of Co-ownership, after death of any co-owner, his (dead man) legal representative owns his part in the Co-ownership. But In case of Joint ownership, after death of any joint owner, his (dead man) legal representative may not own his part in the Joint ownership. 

7.  Absolute Ownership and Limited Ownership

An Absolute ownership is one in whom are vested all the rights over a thing to the exclusion of all. This means that excepting the absolute owner, there is no other person who has any claim whatsoever to the thing in question. On the other hand, where there are limitations on the use, duration or disposal of rights of ownership, it is limited ownership.

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