The Power of Property in Private Law


Chancellor Day Hall NCDH 202, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

The Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law invites you to a 2018-2020 Civil Law Workshop with Sarah Worthington, Downing Professor of the Laws of England and Director of the Cambridge Private Law Centre, Cambridge University, United Kingdom.


This lecture will address the reliance that the common law, and equity in particular, place on the idea of property, and in particular what is achieved by that reliance.

Of course, the practical power of the trust and all that it enables in both commercial and domestic settings is well known. But I want also to move beyond that feature and address the notion that reliance on the idea of property enables difficult policy choices to be injected into judicial decisions in an astonishingly subliminal way. Property law has the reputation for being politically neutral and doctrinally rigorous, with any practical conclusions following from the very nature of things rather than requiring any normative assessment. That view appears flawed. This is an idea I have addressed periodically, but it seems apt to revisit it in the context of this series of lectures.

About the Civil Law Workshops

In order to promote fundamental research in private law, the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law initiated the “Civil Law Workshops” series, bringing together jurists from Québec and beyond to work on related research topics. With their cross-disciplinary focus, the “Civil Law Workshops” contribute to enriching and stimulating fundamental research in private law.

The 2018-2020 series of Civil law workshops explore "Les influences en droit privé".

The workshops are presented with financial assistance from Justice Canada’s Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund.

Registration is not required.

Each workshop has been accredited for 1.5 hour of continuing legal education by the Barreau du Québec and the Chambre des notaires du Québec.