Legal Dictionary

private property

Legal Definition of private property

Related terms

Definition of private property


private property (uncountable)

  1. Belongings, assets, land, information, etc owned by individuals or corporations, as opposed to being under the ownership of the state or other public organisations.

Further reading

Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by individuals or a business entity. Private property emerged as the dominant form of property in the means of production and land during the Industrial Revolution in the early 18th century, displacing feudal property, guilds, cottage industry and craft production, which were based on ownership of the tools for production by individual laborers or guilds of craftspeople.

Marxists and socialists distinguish between "private property" and "personal property", defining the former as the means of production in reference to private enterprise based on socialized production and wage labor; and the latter as consumer goods or goods produced by an individual.

Personal property versus the means of production

In political and economic theory, the distinction between private property in personal goods and private property in the means of production is important.

In general, personal property is part of your person and includes property from which you have the right to exclude others.

From the socialist perspective, private property refers to capital or means of production that is owned by a business or few individuals and operated for their profit. Personal property refers to tangible items and possessions individuals own, such as consumer goods.

From the Marxist perspective, private property is a social relationship, not a relationship between person and thing. In capitalism there is little distinction between personal and private property.


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1.     warrant
2.     tampering
3.     emtio
4.     amnesty law
5.     magistrates court
6.     lex fori
7.     landed property
8.     lex situs
9.     lex causae
10.     ownership