New Perspectives on Acquisitive Prescription | Land Portal
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Björn Hoops

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astronaut and the first president of the European Central Bank. Geographically, the University is rooted in the Northern part of the Netherlands, a region very close to its heart.

Dr Björn Hoops (Groningen) and Dr Ernst Marais (Johannesburg) are organising an international conference, entitled “New perspectives on acquisitive prescription”. The University of Groningen, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg, will host the event at Het Kasteel, Melkweg 1, in Groningen, The Netherlands, from 10-11 May 2018.

The aim of the conference, which is funded by the Gratama Foundation, is to reconsider various aspects of the rule that non-owners may acquire land through long-term possession. The main justifications for such an acquisition are that it serves legal certainty because it adjusts the legal situation to a long-existing factual situation, and that it encourages the owner to look after his/her land. In recent times these justifications as well as the conditions for an acquisition have increasingly come under scrutiny. Objections range from why a possessor should be “rewarded” with ownership if s/he possessed in bad faith to whether acquisition of ownership in this manner should still be allowed in view of modern improvements in title registration and land surveying practices.

The discussed facets include (but are not limited to) the following:

·         Are different categories of cases (i.e., good faith vis-à-vis bad faith possession, boundary disputes, mistakes made when the land was registered) treated differently?

·         What are the requirements for acquisitive prescription (i.e., are they interpreted stricter when a possessor is in bad faith)?

·         Is there a correlation between the size of a country, whether it uses a positive or negative registration system, and whether acquisitive prescription is recognised? Additionally, what relevance do any of these factors have for the prescription period?

·         What impact does acquisitive prescription have on pre-existing property rights (such as servitudes or easements) in land?

·         Have other justifications (i.e., law-and-economics or personhood considerations) come to light or have the traditional ones been reassessed?

·         Should compensation (sometimes) be paid and, if so, by whom?

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