Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Caelum Definition:

Latin: whose is the soil, his it is even to the skies and to the depths below.

Related Terms: Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Coelum Et Ad Inferos, Quicquid Plantatur Solo, Solo Cedit

Also, who owns the land, owns down to the center of the earth and up to the heavens.

An alternate rendition of the alternate maxim cuius est solum ejus est usque ad coelum et ad inferos, the ad inferos part completing the downward implication, "to the depths below".

In the development of the law, no interest was taken in "the depths below" as technology did not then exist to penetrate the undersurface to any great depth, or to harvest natural resources below ground. As technology progressed, the maxim became cuius est solum ejus est usque ad coelum et ad inferos.

Broom translates the maxim as follows:

"He who possesses land possesses also that which is above it."

However, the maxim has given to the landowner property rights in mineral resources that may be beneath his soil.

Cuius est solum ejus est usque ad coelum has proven helpful in curtailing the ambitions of neighbours who are still, today, want to erect structures that fall over another's land. The maxim supports an action for trespass in such a case.

The maxim also supports the common law proposition that a landowner may chop off the branches of a neighbour's tree that overhangs his or her property.

This principle of land ownership has been greatly tempered by contemporary case law which has limited ownership upwards to the extent necessary to maintain structures. Otherwise, airplanes would trespass incessantly.

REFERENCES:

  • Broom, Herbert, A Selection of Legal Maxims Classified and Illustrated, 9th Ed., (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited).
  • Cotterell, John, A Collection of Latin Maxims and Phrases (London: Stevens and Haynes, 1894), page 13.

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