This paper provides an assessment of legal and spiritual issues encountered in some aspects of property law. This is done in reference to Barney, a retired law enforcement officer who finds himself at the centre of legal tussles involving his ownership interests in property. He has interests in both movable and immovable property. The first case involves his ownership of a property that he held jointly with his old friends who have since passed on. This property was acquired 31 years ago and jointly owned with Andy, Floyd and Howard, with the right of survivorship. Barney has however never been to the property for the past 20 years.
In Andy’s will, he indicated that his interest in the jointly owned property be inherited by his son, Opie. Opie on the other hand had charged his share for a loan of which he defaulted and the lender has instituted proceedings for foreclosure. In the mean time, as Barney moved to the property after the deaths of his former joint owners, Ernest, a former deputy to Barney in the work place, brandished a gun at Barney with threats, claiming he had lived on the land for 20 years and thereby entitled to the ownership of the property under the adverse possession principle.
Based on the above proceedings, Barney’s rights are at stake. He rightly owns the property given that the rest of the joint owners have died. Joint ownership with the right for survivorship allows the surviving party to own all the shares in the estate (Bethell, 1998). This means that no rights can accrue to Andy’s son since he lost all his interests in the property after he passed on. The will is therefore invalid. On the spiritual front, it would seem fair to allow the heir get a share of what his father owned.
The other issue regards the impending foreclosure due to the loan default by Opie. The lender has no right to commence any proceedings for foreclosure. Under joint ownership, the interest held is undivided and equal among all the owners (Badenhorst, Pienaar & Mostert, 2006). The rights also cease to exist once the owner passes on. Therefore, after Opie’s father died, the rights of ownership reverted to the surviving partner. The lender cannot therefore sue Barney since he never took the loan. However, under spiritual teachings, it would be appropriate that the estate be subdivided equally so that Opie’s interest is be used to settle the loan.
The third issue on the above case involves Ernest who claims ownership under adverse possession. This ownership is based on a continuous, hostile, exclusive, open, and notorious possession for a period of 20 years. It is applicable to private land only. In this case, Barney has never been to the property for the past 20 years. It is however unclear whether the other joint owners had been at the property before their deaths. The periods for which they have been living there is also unknown. It would have to be established whether Ernest’s stay in the subject property met all the conditions to warrant ownership. Where the conditions were fulfilled, he automatically becomes the rightful owner. The spiritual teachings cannot however support such a stance. It would seem appropriate for the original joint owners to be allowed to continue enjoying ownership rights to the exclusion of the subsequent owner, Ernest.
In the second case, adding to Ernest’s woes, his other home in North Carolina Coast has been ear marked for compulsory acquisition by the authorities under the principle of eminent domain. This is the extinction of private rights in land for public use. The reason for the acquisition must however be for the public good (Greenhut, 2004). In the subject case, Barney has received a notice of the state’s intention to acquire his land for the development of a new business resort. Under the law, eminent domain is exercised for public reasons for example construction of a road, bridge, school, hospital, or environmental conservation project. The development of a business resort to create employment opportunities is not a public use. Barney should therefore seek a judicial review to have the exercise stopped since the reasons for which the acquisition is to be done is against what the law provides. The spiritual view would condemn any efforts to deprive an individual of his interests in land for the development of a business resort. It should be developed elsewhere but not necessarily by exercising eminent domain. The state can first try to acquire through the normal market operations such as by buying it from any willing seller before resorting to eminent domain.
The last case involves theft of Barney’s car. He had driven together with his girlfriend to a restaurant. After he arrived at the parking lot, a valet, Carl, who pretended to be an attendant at the parking to the restaurant, offered to help him have the car parked as they left for their date. Carl instead drove away Barney’s car. The car was later found to have been sold to another person. Barney can sue the restaurant for entertaining an impostor at their premises in disguise as an attendant only to steal the car. It is the liability to the restaurant since they are supposed to provide security within their premises. On the other hand, the person who purchased the car from Carl has to be investigated. The concept of good faith purchase for value must be determined. This means that if he purchased the car without any knowledge of foul play, then he is innocent and the value of the car cannot be recovered from him. However, if it is established that he had information showing some unfair practice as it regards the ownership, then he could be sued and the car recovered from him (Makdisi, 2005). The spiritual front would also hold the same view given that it seeks to shield or protect an innocent merchant but punish the wrong doer.
As discussed above, there are various provisions of the law that guide and regulate undertakings regarding property. They seek to provide a level playing ground for all the parties involved with an aim to encouraging investments and possessing rights in property (Ryskamp, 2006). They also serve to administer justice in the society and thereby harmony amongst the citizens. Where the legal provisions are adhered to, disputes are limited and thereby improved welfare to the state and its citizens.