Introduction: The distinctive path of Australian real property law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


Real property has played a crucial role in the economic development of Australia and, with it, Australian common law. Professor Milsom has stated that, ‘[l]and was wealth, livelihood, family provision, and the principal subject matter of the law.' While it might be argued that intellectual property has overtaken the significance of real property as a driver of economic wealth, property law continues to play a significant role in the allocation and protection of property interests, wealth and power. It deserves its place as one of the most fundamental and traditional areas of legal education in Australia. As Kevin Gray states: The teaching of property law has a particularly important - perhaps even central - role in forming the mind-set not just of the law student, but also of the lawyer, and, in some degree, of the thoughtful and responsible citizen. This book has been prepared with this audience in mind in its attempt to examine and explain the distinctive path and the peculiar complexities of Australian real property law. This book’s approach to real property law reflects this distinctively Australian focus. It is written specifically for students, academics, practitioners and scholars of property law in Australian and other common law jurisdictions. This book emphasises the operation of the Torrens title system of land ownership which, from its birthplace in South Australia, was exported widely and adopted in a range of jurisdictions around the world. In this regard this book differs from those works which address the Torrens system only having comprehensively dealt with the general law system of land ownership as a primary focus. While many of the general law principles are historically important and may be relevant when interests in land are not registered, they are unlikely to be of much significant practical use now that almost all land in Australia is under the Torrens title system. The first three chapters of this book are introductory in nature. Chapter 1 concerns the concept, rationale and contexts of property law in Australia. This chapter has two parts: one contains a legal-philosophical analysis of the meaning of property, while the second is concerned with the ways that property can be categorised. In this chapter Peter Burdon highlights property’s indeterminacy and its connection to politics, philosophy and to social and environmental issues.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Boundaries of Australian Property Law
EditorsHossein Esmaeili, Brendan Grigg
Place of PublicationCambridge, United Kingdom
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781316442838
ISBN (Print)9781107572652
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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