Persons and Property in Private Law, 3e
Canadian Legal Studies Series

Brettel Dawson    (Ed.)

Captus Press, ISBN 978-1-55322-394-8 (2019)
370 pages, 850 g, 8.5 X 11, $53.50 (US$42.80)

Persons and Property in Private Law is an edited collection of cases and writings that presents the fundamental building blocks of private law: Who can be a legal person (capable of autonomous legal action and ownership)? What is legal property (as a bundle of rights and obligations)? This book brings together materials from the classic — Blackstone’s Commentaries, showing the roots of private law in the organization of the common law; and the contemporary — Christopher Stone’s pieces on tree’s rights and Maude Barlow’s plea for national water policy, illustrating the conflicts between human and nature over rights and obligations.

Divided into six parts in this new edition, Part I introduces concepts of “legal persons” and property and the concept of the possessive (and autonomous) individual in private law; Part II examines the concept and functions of a property system; women, corporations, and partial persons such as children and persons with development disabilities; Part III returns to the study of Persons (and the concept of legal personality) but in more depth, and in Part IV, focus is shifted to the capacities of legal persons (who are humans) with respect to their own bodies. Issues with vulnerable groups (children, persons with developmental disabilities, and pregnant women) are observed. Parts V and VI will turn to the relations of exchange between persons and property. In Part V, the central question is: do people own their bodies (or body parts); if so, can they sell their bodies (or body parts)? In Part VI, the discussion turns to the contemporary debates and legal developments over giving legal person status to elements of the eco-systems.

With a wide selection of materials (over 100 excerpts from articles, legislation, and cases), this book shows students the diverse and stimulating topics in the study of persons and property.

Table of Contents   top

Acknowledgements and Dedication

Introduction and Overview

I. Persons, Property, and Legal Ordering

  1. Person, Property, and the Law
    1. Starting Points
    2. Legal Subject and Legal Object

II. The Legal Person (and Property)

  1. The Legal Person Constructed
    1. Foundational Categories: Legal Personification
    2. Who Counts? Lives and Legal Fictions
  1. Women: Property, Person and Place
    1. Property and Legal Existence
    2. Personhood and Legal Inclusion
  1. Legal Person Human Body: Capacity and Contingency
    1. Possessing the Self
    2. Case Study: Sterilization
  1. Legal Personality and Decision-Making: Beginnings and Endings
    1. Partial Legal Persons: Children and Medical Decision-Making
    2. Death and the Legal Person
  1. Inanimate and Immortal Legal Persons: The Corporation

III. Property (and Legal Persons)

  1. The Idea of Property
    1. Concept, Rationale, Definition
    2. Case Study: Property, Private Law, and Public Power
  1. Private Property (Mainly)
    1. Origin Stories I: Organizing Ideas, Justifications and Types of Property
    2. Case Study: That’s Mine! (or is it Ours?)
  1. Troubling the Boundaries of Private Property
    1. On the Commons
    2. Case Study: Private Property Rights and Conservation
  1. Public Property, Crown Land, and Indigenous Land
    1. Origin Stories II: Public Property
    2. Case Study: (Non-)Ownership and Co-Governance
  1. Eco-Systems and Categories: Property or Person?

IV. Conclusion

  1. From Blackstone to Berry: Revising Taxonomy and Legal Categories

Instructor Resources   top

Related Resources   top

About the Author   top

Brettel Dawson is an Associate Professor of Law at Carleton University in Ottawa. Her teaching subjects include gender, human rights, judicial decision-making and judicial process, private law and socio-legal research methods.

Professor Dawson has written in the areas of social context judicial education, women and legal process, human rights, and legal research methodology. A past English Language Co-Editor of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law and a past member of the External Committee of the Independent Policy Research Fund of Status of Women Canada, she is currently a member of the Board of Directors of CANADEM, Canada’s resource database for human rights and democratic development.