The differences between ownership and possession that you should be aware of.


2/4/20223 min read




In Black’s Law Dictionary (6th Ed.) ownership has been defined as “collection of rights to

use and enjoy property, including right to transmit it to others.” Therefore, ownership is de jure recognition of a claim to certain property.


Definition by Salmond:

He observes that the concept of possession is as difficult to define as it is essential to protect. According to him it’s the most basic relationship between men and things. His theory denied the conception of possession in fact and possession in law are two different conceptions and observed that there is only one conception which is position in fact he distinguished between suggestion of physical objects which he called corporal possession and possession of rights which he termed as in corporal position according to him corporal possession is the continuing exercise of claim to the inclusive or exclusive use of it the exercise of claim involves two elements Corpus possession is and animus possidendi

Although the two terms are often confused, possession is not the same as ownership. No legal rule states that "possession is nine-tenths of the law," but this phrase is often used to suggest that someone who possesses an object is most likely its owner. Likewise, people often speak of the things they own, such as clothes and dishes, as their possessions. However, the owner of an object may not always possess the object. For example, an owner of a car could lend it to someone else to drive. That driver would then possess the car. However, the owner does not give up ownership simply by lending the car to someone else.

Both ownership, as well as possession, can simply define as a state, act, or right of owning something. However, in legal terms, they have different meanings.

When someone has legal rights over a property, it can be said that they own it. Ownership is the right which grants a thing or objects to a person in a manner that the thing belongs to that person.

The term ownership refers to the legal right to possesses anything. Ownership can mention to owning an object, land as well as intellectual properties; ownership of property can be classified as private, collective or common. Defining one’s property ownership includes determining who has the rights or duties over the property.


Ownership is the assurance of the law. It is left to seek “proprietary remedies”. Ownership is a matter of multiple rights.

Possession can be defined as physical custody or control of any object. Possession is not same as ownership. A criminal might be in ownership of the stolen property or money which really belongs to another person. Often possession of a weapon from a suspect is detained against him as if he has used it to commit any crime.

Possessory remedies are left with possessor. Transfer of the possession is comparatively can easily be transferred. It cannot be possessed a right in person and can only be owned. “Possession is both a legal and a non-legal or pre-legal concept”.

Power and purpose to control a thing are significant in the theory of possession. Ownership is an assurance by law whereas possession is physical control. Ownership is not required possession

The main difference between possession and ownership is that possession is requiring a physical custody or control of an object while ownership is the right through which something goes to someone.

The rights of possession and ownership are substantially the same. However, possession and ownership differ in their mode of acquisition. The transfer of possession is comparatively easier and less technical, but for the transfer of ownership in most cases involves a technical process of conveyance.

Lastly, possession is a judicial concept and an instrument of judicial policy. Ownership is more than that, it is also a social concept and an instrument of social policy.

Thus, ownership is not and should not be confused with the right to possession. Though ownership contains a bundle of rights with it and possession may be one of those rights but it is not the only right and even in the absence of right of possession, ownership may exist. Superficially it seems to be correct to say that ownership is the best right to possess, technically it seems to be not foolproof for various reasons.



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