Renmin Chinese Law Review
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Renmin Chinese Law Review

Selected Papers of the Jurist (法学家) Volume 7

Edited by Jichun Shi

Renmin Chinese Law Review, Volume 7 is the fourth work in a series of annual volumes on contemporary Chinese law which bring together the work of recognized scholars from China, offering a window on current legal research in China.
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Chapter 9: On the relationships between ownership, acquisitive prescription and the statute of limitations under Chinese law

Jin Yin


The separation between possession and ownership can be regulated both by acquisitive prescription and by the statute of limitations. Where acquisitive prescription applies, possession may ripen into ownership. By imposing restrictions on the right to claim the return of the object, the statute of limitations has indirect implications for the separation of possession and ownership. Further arguments are needed to justify the affirmative theory that the right to claim the return of the object should be subject to the statute of limitations. As far as legislative techniques are concerned, the statute of limitations is not suitable for regulating the separation between possession and ownership because it cannot determine and allocate the real interests between related parties after the expiration of the limitations period. By incorporating the legal effect of acquisitive prescription into the requirements for the statute of limitations, the “Bridge Model” can overcome the shortcomings of the statute of limitations. Both the “Bridge Model” and the traditional acquisitive prescription models in comparative law can reduce or eliminate the separation between ownership and possession and properly determine and allocate the real interests after the limitations period expires. Legislators may choose either of the said models according to their preference. The “Bridge Model” is a legal response to the inaction of the owner, whereas the models of acquisitive prescription focus on the quality of the possession. The former can completely eliminate the separation of ownership and possession within a certain period, while the goal of the latter, especially the acquisitive prescription based on bona fides for a certain length of time, is only to reduce it.

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