Modes of acquisition of ownernship

Modes of acquisition of ownership


Ownership is a conception of possession. The main matter of Ownership consists of material object such as land. The concept of ownership seems to be having come into being when the society changed from nomadic to agricultural. The concept of ownership gradually developed due to the changes in the economic structure of the society. Basically, Ownership refers to the relation of a man with the object which he has in his possession. During the era of primitive societies, there didn’t exisit the concept of Ownership. The concept was identified when the people actually started to settle down by building homes and cultivating land, there started the idea of ownership.

According to Austin, the definition given by Austin was “ a right over a determinate thing indefinite in the point of user, unrestricted in point of disposition and unlimited in point of duration”.

Essentials of Ownership:

1) Indefiniteness in point of user: It can be said that one of the incidents of ownership that whatever thing owned can be used in many ways which cannot be defined. The owner of land, may use his property for growing crops, or for construction of building or anything as such. The owner has the ultimate liberty to use his land.

2) Power of disposal: The second incident of ownership is that the owner has the power to dispose of the property. There are no certain limitations to his power. This is termed as one of the important incidents of the concept of ownership. Mere possession of property does not give the ownership of the property.

3) Unlimited in point of duration: This is the third incident of ownership. It means that the right of ownership exists as long as the thing which is owned exists. After the death of the owner, the property then it goes it to his successors.

4) Right to possess: The owner, who is in the possession of his land, has the right to possess which he owns.

5) Residuary Character: The owner of the property may part his rights with regards to the things he own. This doesn’t mean taking away of ownership f any kind.

6) Right to alienate: As being the absolute owner he has ultimate power to alienate his property that he owns.

Signification of ownership:

The main and most important signification of ownership is the material objects. It may also include the wealth and assets of persons, which include shares, patents etc, can also be termed as a subject matter of ownership. Hence, both tangible and intangible rights constitute the significance of ownership. According to Salmond’s view, the real significance of ownership is rights. Salmond’s view is supported by the common law system. The subject matter of ownership which is very importantly determined upon the legal system of state. The legal system of a country may recognize the ownership of such objects by making a subject matter of ownership.

Modes of Acquisition of Ownership:

Hindu Law:

The ancient Hindu Jurists have written much about the modes of acquisition of ownership. There are seven modes of acquisition of property with accordance to Hindu law:

1) Inheritance
2) Gain
3) Purchase
4) Conquest
5) Application of wealth
6) Employment, and
8) Acceptance of gifts from proper persons.

According to Salmond, basically a person is said to acquire ownership in two ways:

  • By operation of law, or
  • By reason of some act or event.

In modern times, the modes of acquisition of ownership may be either original or derivative

Original Acquisition:

This takes place when ownership is acquired by some personal act on the part of the acquirer. It is of three kinds:

  • Absolute
  • Accessory and
  • Extinctive

Absolute acquisition: Where a thing is acquired which has no previous owner it is said to be the absolute original acquisition. This type of ownership is acquired in two ways: occupation and specification.

Accessory acquisition: In accessory acquisition, the ownership of a property is acquired which comes by way of accession to some existing property. In Roman law, this mode of acquisition was called accessio.

Extinctive: When ownership is acquired by a person by some act on his part which extinguishes the title of the previous owner, then it is called extinctive acquisition. For example, the acquisition of ownership by prescription is extinctive acquisition. There may be acquisitive prescription in which, after the expiration of the particular period, the law gives to the adverse possessor a full legal title.

Derivative Acquisition:

When ownership is derived from a previous owner it is called ‘derivative’ acquisition. It includes the acquisition of ownership by inheritance, intestate and testamentary, and transfer purchase, acceptance of gift. In every legal system, there are prescribed rules which regulate and govern this mode of acquisition or ownership. Acquisition of ownership by derivative method of different types of property can be deemed to be complete. The law of succession and the law of transfer of property etc are the rules of this kind. This type of ownership includes:

1) Succession or through inheritance
2) Donation, as when a piece of land is given gratuitously and accepted and in a public inheritance
3) Prescription, as when ownership of land is acquired by adverse possession for the period of time required under the law, provided necessary legal conditions or requisites are present
4) Law
5) Tradition, as a consequence of certain contracts.

As we have observed there are two types of acquisition of ownership, Original mode when things which had not been owned before and can be acquired by possession. The things owned before ownership over that thing is by derivative mode.


The nature of ownership is remaining and can be said as to have a lot of rights attached to it, and it denotes the relation of a man and the thing which he owns. The concept of ownership has been evolved from years and it was already imbibed in the human mind and it was not in a proper legal sense. Ownership is a legal concept and as a relation man can exercise certain rights.

Author: Saba banu,
Pendekanti law college, 3rd year BA LLB student

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