In 1828 the Real Property Commission was tasked with making ‘diligent and full inquiry’ into the English law of property. Just one year later, the Commissioners reached the bold conclusion that property law, ‘except in a few comparatively unimportant particulars, appears to come almost as near to perfection as can be expected in any human institutions’. One can only conjecture, but, had the Commissioners been asked whether property law respects the values that are today enshrined in the Convention and the HRA, their answer would likely have been that, as a near-faultless human institution, it does.
It is the aim of this chapter to ascertain the effect of the HRA on property and housing law: is the domestic property system a bastion so perfectly formed that it is fortified against attacks on human rights grounds; or does it have weaknesses that expose it to such challenges? From the point of view of the property lawyer, the issue is whether property law needs to be relearned and property tomes rewritten on account of human rights, with the possible effect that the rules of property law become less stable and predictable. From a citizen's perspective, the importance lies in whether the current property rules determine their rights conclusively, or whether the HRA provides them with any greater or lesser proprietary entitlement against other citizens.
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