Anglo-American law enables property owners to split up rights among multiple entities by breaking their ownership apart into future interests that may evolve over time. The conveyances that owners use to transfer and subdivide property rights follow rigid syntactic conventions and are governed by an intricate body of interlocking doctrines that determine their legal effect. These doctrines have been codified, but only in informal and potentially ambiguous ways.
This paper presents preliminary work in developing a formal model for expressing and analyzing property conveyances. We develop a domain-specific language capable of expressing a wide range of conveyances in a syntax approximating natural language. This language desugars into a core calculus for which we develop operational and denotational semantics capturing a variety of important properties of property law in practice. We evaluate an initial implementation of our languages and semantics on examples from a popular property law textbook.
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