Possession Meaning and types of possession

Possession Meaning and types of possession:

Possession Meaning

We are fond of using the word “possession” without knowing the meaning of this term. Once, people have things under their physical control, they will be proud to say that they are in possession of the said property. Possession can mean many things but it is the occupation or physical control a person has on land or chattel that he exercises personally or through his agent or servant.

A person who has a property under his custody and control can be said to be in physical possession of the property. Possession is the exclusive right and control a person has on a property that he can use against every other person except a person with better title to the said property. Possession is usually said to be 99% ownership. in many scenarios, a person in possession is usually assumed to be the owner of the said property whether land or chattel. A person in possession can institute an action for trespass because trespass is an action against possession and not ownership.

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A person would be said to be in possession of a landed property where he either has physical possession or control over the land by himself or through his agent, caretaker, tenant, and or agent. The person in possession of landed property or chattel is known as a Possessor. An adverse possessor is a person in wrongful possession of landed property or chattel that he doesn’t have a possessory right over.

It would be worthy of note to state that if a person can maintain an action that his possessory right has been infringed by another, such a person shall be held liable for a tortious act of trespass.

Types of Possession

We have two major types of Possession

Actual Possession

It is actual possession when the person that has possessory right on the property is in physical possession of the property or he has physical control of the said property. This is also known as de facto possession. It is the possession in fact. The owner of the property is exercising physical control and dominion over the property. He is not acting as a servant or agent

Constructive Possession

This is possible where the person that has a possessory right over property is exercising such a right through another person. Here the owner is not in physical control of the said person and he does not have physical dominion over the property. However, he may be exercising such a possessory right through another person or agent. Even, though he may not be exercising it through anyone instead he may have something on the land or property that signifies his possession of the property. For instance, in the land when the owner has some fence or beacon or crops on the land, it will automatically stand for constructive possession.

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Possession is Prima Facie Evidence of ownership in Law

In the case of Eze v. Obiefuna, possession was said to be Nine tenth ownership in Law. This is so because possession is good against the whole world except against a person with a better right or the true owner. It would be stated that even wrong possession may accrue to ownership within a passage of time. For instance, an adverse possession by a person for a period of 15 years may destroy the title of the true owner and itself mature to ownership.


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