Posessory (embolded) and Proprietary (embolded and italicized) here can't be synonyms, because the author is using them in opposition. Notice the "rather than" in the sentence footnoted 54. Thus how does Possessory differ from Proprietary?

      Secondly, if a third party steals the trust property, the beneficiary has no claim in the tort of conversion against the third party,53 whereas the trustee would. The beneficiary would be able to sue in conversion if they had been in possession of the property, but then the beneficiary would be relying on their possessory right rather than their equitable proprietary right.54 Similarly, where the property is negligently damaged, the beneficiary has no direct claim against the tortfeasor for property damage or economic loss, because such a claim can be brought only by a person who has a legal proprietary interest or possessory interest in the property.55 A claim can be brought if the trustee is made a party to the proceedings,56 but not if the trustee consented to the interference with the property, because then the third party will not have committed any wrong.

Virgo, The Principles of Equity & Trusts 2020 4th edn. Page 49. All boldings and italics are mine.

  • I’m voting to close this question because it belongs on english.stackexchange.com Oct 30, 2021 at 1:50
  • 3
    @BlueDogRanch Did you read those links yourself? The first definition of "proprietary" is "one that possesses, owns, or holds exclusive right to something". This looks the same as "possessory". And I'm asking about the legal definitions here, not ordinary English.
    – user41441
    Oct 30, 2021 at 5:05
  • 3
    @BlueDogRanch Questions about legal terms are explicitly on-topic here, even if they could also be answered on ELU or another SE site. Oct 30, 2021 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


proprietary = under legal ownership (whereas factual possession may not necessarily be happening)

possessory = under factual legal possession but with no legal ownership

  • 2
    Can you pls elaborate? Your answer baffles me. 1. You wrote " factual possession" for proprietary. Then you wrote "factual legal possession " for possessory. Did you typo? 2. What does "factual possession" mean exactly?
    – user41776
    Dec 11, 2021 at 21:37
  • @ElVaf 1. No typo. Do you see and understand the words "may not necessarily be happening"? 2. It's when you have the property physically in your hands and control. You may or may not be the legal owner at the same time.
    – Greendrake
    Dec 11, 2021 at 23:30
  • 2
    Thanks. What is "factual possession"?
    – user41776
    Dec 12, 2021 at 17:07

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