On the edge of the law: Women's property rights and dispute resolution in Kisii, Kenya

Type Journal Article - Law & Society Review
Title On the edge of the law: Women's property rights and dispute resolution in Kisii, Kenya
Volume 43
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Page numbers 39-60
URL http://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1072&context=polisci-faculty-publication​s
Secure property rights are important, even in traditional or customary systems
where formal title is not available or widely used. They encourage people to invest in
their resources and protect those investments against expropriation. Security of property
rights rest on their clear definition and defense (Acemoglu et al. 2004; De Soto 2000;
Fukuyama 2004; Libecap 2003; Norton 2000; Weimer 1997). Yet in many parts of the
world, property dispute resolution processes are unclear or inaccessible due to lack of
facilities, education or public sensitization. In much of Sub-Saharan Africa, the presence of
multiple and overlapping legal systems further complicates the process of dispute resolution.
Moreover, the legal systems that exist, customary and public, may not always recognize or
enforce the same set of property rights. Ambiguity in the definition or enforcement of
property rights leads to an increase in transaction costs in the exchange and transfer of land
as well as a residual uncertainty after any land contract. The issue of dispute resolution with
regard to property rights has been largely neglected in the academic literature, in part,
because many of those writing on property rights live in countries where adjudication is
neither a mystery nor a particular problem (although it may become so if one has the
misfortune of becoming involved in a legal dispute).

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