Property Law

A contemporary twist on this staple course in the law school curriculum, our introduction to property excites students with questions that connect foundational principles and real-world problems. Who may own human body parts? What’s proprietary in the sports pages of newspapers? How does patent ownership impact access to medicine? Does property law adequately address problems of homeless and poverty? What is a cyber-trespass? Are racist trust funds illegal? When and how did women win rights to a fair share of family property? Those topics are in addition to traditional core issues of real and personal property, like boundaries, possession, estates, future interests, trusts and Aboriginal perspectives on property. Using Canada’s leading property law casebook, equal attention is paid to conceptual and doctrinal aspects of the law. Emphasis is placed on the analytical skills required for legal practice, without losing sight of public policy and social justice.




The overarching objective of this course is to introduce you to the basics of property law in an exciting and engaging way, so that you’ll want to learn more about it throughout law school and your professional career.



The first 10% of your grade will be based on a short writing exercise that give you the chance to respond critically to the course topics and content.


You’ll need some important information about when and where our property law class meets, how the classes will run, the learning tools we’ll use, and so on. In 2018-19, our class will meet as follows.



A further 20% of your grade is determined by your performance on a group-based experiential learning activity and legal memorandum.


There are 4 opportunities for evaluation and feedback course: a blog commentary, a site visit and legal memo, a comprehensive take-home exam,  and a dispute resolution quiz.



Yes, this class requires the inevitable final exam. It is a 60% take-home exam, which you will have six hours to complete.


I’m available to respond to questions by email, direct message on twitter or meetings. Students who require accommodations or academic support should read more about tutorials and supports.



The remaining 10% of your grade will be determined by a quiz on property-related subject matter.

The Nature of Property

What is “property”? Who gets to “own” property, and why? What kinds of “things” get protected? These basic questions will be addressed in the practical context of controversies over ownership of news, sports scores, genetic materials and even people.

Property Boundaries

With all the talk about property as a “right” and not a “thing”, it is easy to forget that rights often relate to tangible physical objects, and that spatial issues are extremely important. At the same time, there’s a legal line between tangible and intangible resources.

Principles of Equity

This lesson looks at principles of equity, a topic that has been mentioned earlier in this course and likely examined in other courses as well. The focus is on the modern law of trusts, including express, resulting and constructive trusts.

Aboriginal Rights

Canadian courts have defined Aboriginal title as a sui generis blend of common law and Aboriginal conceptions of land ownership. This lesson explores the source, nature and importance of Aboriginal property rights in Canada.

Property in Perspective

By now you’ll know that it is impossible to properly understand the law of property in a vacuum. So lesson 2 provides a contextual basis for our study of property law, with particular focus on the social, economic and political issues that impact resource allocation.

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.

Future of Property

This lesson is about limits on proprietary freedom: to what extent can a private owner control future uses of property? We will revisit the justifications of private property, and continue to explore the intersection between property rights and other values.