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natural rights


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1 (in natural law)a. Rights conferred on all individuals by the natural law. b. The fundamental rights found in civilized nations to which all men are entitled without interference by the state. This concept of natural law was particularly popular in the 18th century. It has had great influence in the legal history of the USA, as seen, for example, in the Virginian Declaration of Rights: “All men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent natural rights of which when they enter a society they cannot by any compact deprive or divest their posterity”. See also human rights.

2 (in land law) Rights automatically belonging to a landowner, violation of which constitutes an actionable nuisance. The most obvious and important of these is the landowner's right to enjoy his land in its natural state and not to have support for it eroded by the activities of his neighbours (for example through excavation or quarrying operations). This right relates to the land rather than to buildings on it, although damages for infringing the natural right of support may reflect the damage done to buildings on the land affected by the neighbours' activities. A natural right to water may exist if it flows naturally through the landowner's property via a defined channel. Compare easement.

Subjects: Law — Modern History (1700 to 1945).


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