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Property, Contract, and Verification: The Numerus Clausus Problem and the Divisibility of Rights

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  • Hansmann, Henry
  • Kraakman, Reinier
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    Abstract

    The law of every jurisdiction defines a set of well-recognized forms that property rights can take and restricts the creation of property rights that deviate from those forms. We argue that these restrictions serve not to standardize rights as others have argued but rather to aid verification of the ownership of rights offered for conveyance. We explore the feasible verification rules for property rights and illustrate the relationship between those rules and the structure of rights they support in the principal fields of property, including use rights to real and personal property, security interests, legal entities, and intellectual property. We offer a simple calculus for assessing the efficiency of alternative property rights regimes. We define clearly the difference between property rights and contract rights, clarify the connection between property rights and property rules, and illuminate the limits on specific performance as a contract remedy. Copyright 2002 by the University of Chicago.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Legal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 31 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: S373-420

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:31:y:2002:i:2:p:s373-420

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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    Cited by:
    1. Benito Arruñada, 2010. "Institutional Support of the Firm: A Theory of Business Registries," Working Papers 508, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    2. Benito Arruñada, 2012. "Property as an economic concept: reconciling legal and economic conceptions of property rights in a Coasean framework," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 59(2), pages 121-144, July.
    3. Benito Arruñada, 2009. "Property titling and conveyancing," Economics Working Papers 1177, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    4. Benito Arruñada, 2009. "The law of impersonal transactions," Economics Working Papers 1187, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 2010.
    5. Kenneth Ayotte & Patrick Bolton, 2007. "Optimal Property Rights in Financial Contracting," NBER Working Papers 13316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. John Armour & Michael J Whincop, 2005. "The Proprietary Foundations of Corporate Law," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp299, ESRC Centre for Business Research.

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