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 about news or sports scores? 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.

Goals

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

Methods

You’ll need some 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 2019-20, these are the methods we’ll use.

Evaluation

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

Support

I’m available to respond to questions by email, direct message, or during meetings. If you require accommodations or academic support, read more about tutorials and supports.

Comment

Commentary and opinion on current property issues.

Memo

Experiential learning through a site visit and legal memorandum.

Exam

A take-home exam simulating a day in the life of a lawyer.

Quiz

A quiz in January 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 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.

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.

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.

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 — underpinned by content in every lesson so far — explores the source, nature and importance of Aboriginal property rights in Canada.