Integrating Common Law and Civil Law Traditions
Chapter 7: Fragmentation and modifications to property
It is well recognised that one of the major differences between the civil law and the common law is that the common law does not have a concept of ownership as foundational as the one found in the civil law. It is, however, possible in the common law, as it is in the civil law, to create a right or interest in property that is less than complete title. The difference between the civil law and the common law on this issue is not so much that there is no ownership at common law - indeed, the fee simple, which represents the most complete interest in land, is very similar to ownership in the civil law and can be considered its functional equivalent. Rather, the difference is that while fragmentation of title is the rule in the common law, unitary title is the principle in the civil law.
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