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1 J. Sustainable Dev. L. & Pol'y 1 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/jsusdvlp1 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Afe Babalola University: Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Polcy
Vol. 1 Iss. 1 (2013) pp. 1-20


        THE NATURE OF LAND OWNERSHIP AND THE
                 PROTECTION OF THE PURCHASER

                                Clement C Chigbo*

 ABSTRACT
        This article examines the nature of owners hzjt of land and derivative or subordinate real-
 rghts under English law drawing some comparison with Romanic-Dutch ownersh while arguing
 that the Anglo-American estate' or interest' in land is a mere semantic conundrum. It is the
 position of this writer that the concept of ownershfp in English law of real property, which
 dominantly influences our realproperty law in Ngeria and other common law jurisdictions such as
 the Bahamas   and Jamaica,  has not  brought the desirable clarity to our real property
jurisprudence/practice in Nigeria. The unfortunate problems faced by purchasers of real estate in
some common  law jurisdiction are also briefly examined in this article. The article seeks to advance a
solution to these problems and in this context the writer strongly suggests that a land registration
spstem of some model should be adopted in Nigeria and the Bahamas to protect purchasers of real
estates and guarantee greater security of title and clarity in our conveyanang practice.

INTRODUCTION
Land  is elemental. It is where life begins and it is where life ends. Land provides the
physical  substratum  for human   activity; it is the essential base of all social and
commercial   interaction. Land law is, accordingly, that part of the law which governs
the  allocation of rights and obligations in relation to 'real' or 'immovable' property.
We   spend scarcely a moment   out of contact with terra firma and our very existence
is constantly sustained and shaped  by the natural and  constructed world  around us.
The  significance of land in human  affairs is therefore incalculable, although it is only
in an  era of global environmental threat that we  slowly begin to realize how fragile
and  irreplaceable the rich resource on which we  so utterly depend is. In the case of
real property, as was  once  observed, 'there is a defined and  limited supply of the
commodity.   Land  ownership  bites both upon  two  concepts or forms  of ownership
i.e. the principal or dominant  right and ownership   of third party rights which are
commonly known as subordinate real rights: X owns land for instance, but others
may   have rights in that land for land is an asset that lots of people can do lots of
things with. We  can  live on it, build on it, work over it, catch fish in river or on it,
play on  it, and trade both on it and in it.2
        Moreover,   land is said to be static or stationary in the sense that it stays
where   it is, unlike say ships and other  moveable   items.3         At any given time a
multitude  of interests and rights can exists in one and  the same  land. More   than
anything  else, the fact of the possibility of existence of multiplicity of interests and
rights  in land  spins a serious  conundrum in dealing with land ownership and
prospective  purchasers are usually faced with potential problems where issues are not


* Solicitor of England and Wales, Chigbo is a Peripatetic Lecturer in Law in the UK, the Bahamas and
Nigeria. He is presently with the College of Law, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria.
1 Linden Gardens Trust Ltd v Lenesta Sludge Disposals Ltd (1994) 1 AC 85 at 107D per Lord
Brown-Wilkinson.
2 See Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test 2007, Property Manual, BPP Professional Education 2007,
London, England, p 1-5
3 These items are classified as personal property in contradistinction to land that is classified as real
property.

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