Property in the common law

Cat­egor­isa­tion of prop­erty in the com­mon law can be quite com­plex, so here’s a dia­gram to illus­trate the dif­fer­ent types of prop­erty that can exist:

Property in the common law

Each set of sub­cat­egor­ies in the dia­gram above is an exhaust­ive divi­sion of its par­ent cat­egory. All prop­erty is either real or per­son­al prop­erty. Per­son­al prop­erty con­sists of chat­tels real (which includes lease­holds) and chat­tels per­son­al. Chat­tels per­son­al can be divided into choses in pos­ses­sion (such as pens and cars) and choses in action (such as copy­right and a debt).

The dia­gram cap­tures the main divi­sions, but it is pos­sible to fur­ther sub­cat­egor­ise: for example, choses in action can be divided into leg­al and equit­able choses in action. For some areas of the law, oth­er cat­egor­isa­tions might take centre stage, such as the dis­tinc­tion between cor­por­eal and incor­por­eal prop­erty, and move­able and immove­able prop­erty.



  1. Dan’s avatar

    Nice. What did you use to do the dia­gram?

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