Dalhousie Law Journal


Canada, legal education, property, freehold, leasehold estates, reversions, remainders, determinable, defeasible, law, Australia


Students in first year law in English-speaking common law schools in Canada follow a fairly standard curficulum, heavily weighted in favour of private law subjects such as torts, contracts and property, with criminal law, constitutional law, and perhaps a methods, theories or skills course rounding out their required courses. Most students find the content to be as they expected in courses in torts, contracts, criminal and constitutional law. These areas of law, after all, provide the law-related stories that are an increasing part ofnational and even international news. But many students find first year property a puzzle. They expect the course to deal with protecting one's property from others; buying and selling land; creating and marketing residential, commercial and recreational developments; or raising money on the security of land. Instead, students are presented with ideas of property rights and obligations that developed in England in the five hundred years following the Norman Conquest. Grappling with such abstractions as freehold and leasehold estates, reversions and remainders, or determinable and defeasible interests, students have little time to ponder why rules that developed in a very different time and place continue to shape the possibilities for structuring their client's business and family opportunities in the twenty-first century.