Possession of Property

You’ve all heard it said that possession is 9/10 of the law. Is it really? What does that mean anyways? Since when could we talk about law with fractions? Well, let me preempt your economic analysis by simply saying that possession is an important property principle.

Possession is not synonymous with ownership or title. It is a distinct term with technical connotations and legal consequences, which are explored in this lesson.

We start with the infamous case of Popov v. Hayashi. Read it and the notes following at pages 283-295 of our casebook. This class integrates with our special screening of “Up For Grabs“, the award-winning documentary about this bizarre case. Believe it or not, there’s a purpose to all this baseball talk. Through these materials, we’ll highlight how elusive and ambiguous the concept of possession can be. A lot of the principles go back to disputes over the capture of wild animals, which you’ll recall came up in the first case we studied, Yanner v Eaton.

Next up is an in-class exercise demonstrating the relative nature of possession and ownership. Read pages 316-332 for our class, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

Studying the law of gifts in the next part of this lesson shows how the principle possession can be important to effectively transfer title from one person to another. “Give it Away” is covered at pages 332-51.