Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 72: Transfer of movable property*

Lars van Vliet


Many of the world’s legal systems for the transfer of movable property fit into one of three types of transfer system: the causal consensual system, the causal tradition system and the abstract tradition system. Here two dividing lines intertwine: the distinction between causal and abstract systems and the distinction between consensual and tradition systems. As examples we will look at the transfer of movable property in German, Scots, French, English and Dutch law, and the new system of the Draft Common Frame of Reference. The transfer using negotiable instruments and the transfer by way of security will not be considered, nor will transfers which require registration. Automatic transfers by operation of the law, such as a transfer to an heir, will also be excluded. A causal transfer system (examples: the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Draft Common Frame of Reference for European Private Law) demands that the transfer be based on a valid legal ground, i.e., a legal reason justifying the passing of ownership (iusta causa traditionis). In an abstract system, on the other hand, the transfer is valid even if it is not based on a valid legal ground. Under the influence of Savigny and his pupils, German law opted for the abstract system. Other legal systems which use an abstract transfer system for the transfer of movables are South African law and Scottish law.

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