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Custom, Land and Livelihood in Rural South ChinaThe Traditional Land Law of Hong Kong's New Territories, 1744-1948$
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Patrick H. Hase

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9789888139088

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888139088.001.0001

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Restraints on Transactions in Land

Restraints on Transactions in Land

(p.116) (p.117) 5 Restraints on Transactions in Land
Custom, Land and Livelihood in Rural South China

Patrick H. Hase

Hong Kong University Press

According to customary land law, when someone wanted to sell his land, he must offer the right of first refusal to his nearest relatives, then other members of his clan before he could offer it to outsiders. Sales of inherited land can be seen as a breach of an informal trust and that selling to an outsider might upset the clan and the village community. Frauds and collusion were often checked by the village. The sale of the land among members of the clan was often conducted through an oral agreement, while selling to outsiders required a written deed. The deed often stated that immediate family members had been offered the land but had been unable to take up the offer. The deeds also show that the reason for the sale was either starvation or extreme poverty.

Keywords:   Hong Kong, New Territories, Customary Land Law, Right of first refusal, Oral agreement, Village community, Deeds, Family trust, Rural poverty

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