The exclusivity of ownership
PhD student: Mrs Dr D. Gruyaert
Promotor: Prof V. Sagaert
Duration: 1/9/2011 - 31/8/2015
PhD defence: Leuven, 31/5/2016
Property law of civil law jurisdictions, grounded firmly in Roman law, is based on indivisible or exclusive ownership. Only one person can have the plenitude of rights on a certain good at a given time. The principle of exclusivity was established during the French Revolution, which abolished the feudal system and its idea of layered ownership. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the exclusive nature is one of the main features of our concept of ownership. This principle entails a strong aversion to fragmentation of ownership. However, recent developments in property law, insolvency law and patrimonial family law, seem to indicate that today legal systems attach a more nuanced understanding to the principle of exclusivity of ownership. There is a tendency to create layers in ownership. Some examples are title retention, fiduciary ownership and other trust-like figures. The decline of the exclusivity or indivisibility of ownership is one of the most important recent developments of European property law. It raises the question of the significance of exclusive ownership in the present civil law systems. This research will be both historical and comparative. The first part of this doctoral thesis deals with the concept, its origin and the development of exclusive ownership. Secondly, we will deal with the manifestations of exclusive ownership today. After this state of affairs, the main question that will be: To what extent should we adhere to the exclusivity of ownership? Should there be a renewed interpretation of this principle, and, if so, what should that interpretation be like?