This course introduces students to the basic elements and principles of private law. It begins by looking at what the term private law means, the sources of private law and how the different areas of private law - especially property, contract, tort and unjust enrichment – relate to each other.
The bulk of the course is spent on the topics of contract and property law. In both cases, the course provides an introduction to materials that are expanded upon in later subjects. With respect to contract law, this course covers the formation of contracts and the doctrine of privity. Several other elements of contract law are dealt with later in the curriculum in Contracts. With respect to property law, this course considers the boundaries of the concept of property, as well as several of the rules with respect to the creation, transfer and protection of property rights. Again several other elements of property law are dealt with later in Land Law, and to some extent also in Equity and Trusts.
The course also introduces students to two smaller topics: agency and equitable estoppel. As well as being closely related to contracts and property, these are two important areas of law for practicing lawyers.
The Domain of Private Law
Private law, values and justice
Private law and public law distinguished
Origins and sources of private law
The categories of private law
Formation of contracts
Offer and acceptance
Intention to create legal relations
Certainty of terms
Definition of property
Licences, contractual and otherwise
New forms of property
Definition of land
Doctrine of fixtures
Creation of property rights: original acquisition, voluntary/involuntary transfers
The concept of possession of land and goods
Torts of trespass, detinue and conversion
Adverse possession/possessory title
Formal requirements for the transfer of interests in land
Distinction from other relationships, eg employment, sub-contract
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