Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Living Edition
| Editors: Kevin W. Gray

The Legal Conception of “Eminent Domain” and Territorial Rights

Living reference work entry



Eminent domain refers to the power of the state to convert private property to public ownership and use through a forced or nonvoluntary legal process. Typically, the state compensates private owners based upon the fair market value of the property. In some situations, the state uses eminent domain to protect its historical and environmental interests because property owners have special social obligations that govern their property rights. These obligations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, reflecting traditional and cultural attitudes towards owners’ rights as well their duties to their communities. Eminent domain may also describe the regulatory processes which does not result in a transfer of ownership, but merely limits a private owner’s opportunities to exploit their property for personal or corporate profit.

Dominium eminens was first described by Hugo Grotius in De Jure Belli et Pacisin 1625. The power of the state to take private...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California State UniversityTurlockUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Nick C. Sagos
    • 1
  1. 1.Humanities / Liberal ArtsSeneca CollegeTorontoCanada