Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Land Patent Definition:

A conveyance of land from the government to a private person.

Related Terms: Torrens Land Registration System

A land patent is the name given to the legal instrument, a deed, by which the government passes fee simple title of government land to private persons.

These were the exact words of Justice Lindberg of the Illinois Appellate Court in Britt v. Federal Land Bank Ass'n of St. Louis.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal adopted similar language in Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Canada:

"A land patent from the Crown was the instrument used to convey title to the land."

All land not otherwise owned belongs to the government, sometimes called the Crown or the state. On occasion in history but less so in modern times, the government distributes parcels from their land holdings, such as to encourage colonization and settlement or to reward soldiers after a war.

These titles have become important as most titles in common law jurisdictiions reserve mineral rights to the government, but not land patents which if silent on the issue, belong to the title holder of the land patent, and all subsequent holders of that land patent.


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