Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Cadastre Definition:

French: a database of real property data within a certain jurisdiction.

Also known as a legal cadastre.

An official, public registry of legal interests.

While a cadastre can be for real or personal property, it is generally used, and certainly developed in regards to real property, especially land.

Often used synonymously with land registry.

Willis Rogers wrote:

"The most acceptable definition of a legal cadastre is ... the indefeasible location of land parcels, and the accompanying indefeasible descriptive record which indicates information relevant to the legal rights in each parcel....

"There are only four resources in the world - land, water, air and man - and of these, three are extremely mobile with land the only constant....

"The unit of measurement would become a parcel of land either as a unit of ownership or a unit of use.....

"To develop a legal cadastre, it is necessary to establish a control network suitable for accurate location, prepare property index maps; initiate a modem land tenure system (and) progressively develop a management information system.....

"The cadastre, when established, contains basic and reliable information, which is properly maintained and kept up to date and open for public inspection."

In his 1998 article, law professor (University of Washington School of Law) Tim Hanstad wrote:

"A cadastre is a systematically organized database of property data within a certain jurisdiction. This information is based on a comprehensive survey of a property's boundaries.

"Related to the term cadastre are the terms cadastral survey, which is a survey of boundaries of land parcels, and cadastral map, which is a map indicating the boundaries of land parcels.

"Although cadastres were originally established for land taxation purposes, in many countries they later were used for land registration purposes.

"When a cadastre is used for land tax purposes, it is a fiscal cadastre; when it is used for land registration purposes, it is a legal cadastre.

"It is important to note, however, that a cadastre, or even a cadastral survey, is not a requirement for a land registration system."


  • Hanstad, Tim, Designing Land Registration Systems for Developing Countries, 13 AUILR 647 (1997-1998)
  • Roberts, Willis, Use of the Legal Cadastre in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, 5 RCTJL 121 (1975-1976)

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