Holland defines a legal right as,
“a capacity residing in one man of controlling, with the assent and assistance of the State, the actions, of others.”
Austin defines a right as,
“a faculty which resides in a determinate party or parties by virtue of a given law and which avails against a partly or parties other than the party or parties in whom it resides.”
He observes that a person has a right when another or others are bound or obliged by law to do or forbear towards or in regard of him.
Holland lays emphasis on the element of enforcement of a right, while Salmond gives prominence lo recognition.
Essentials of a Legal Right:
In every legal right there are the following five elements:
1. The person in whom it is vested and who may be distinguished as the owner of the right, the subject of it, the person entitled, or the person of inherence.
2. The person against whom the right avails and upon whom the correlative duty lays. He may be distinguished as the person bound, or as the subject of the duly or as the person of incidence.
3. The ace of forbearance which the person in whom the right resides is entitled to exact. This may be termed as the content of the right.
4. The object over which the right is exercised, and which may be termed as the object or subject-matter of the right, i.e., something to which they are or omission relates. This thing need not be any physical object, but may consist of a right, an aggregate of rights or a person.
Rights are classified by Salmond according to their objects as follows: over material things, in respect of one’s own person; of reputation, in respect of domestic relations, in respect of other rights over immaterial property; and to services.
5. The title by which the right has come into existence, i.e., certain facts or events by reason of which the right has become vested in the owner.
Can There be an Ownerless Right?
There cannot be a right without an owner for rights are merely attributes of persons and can have an independent existence. Right does not exist in vacuum. It inheres in a person.
The object of law is to protect a person in the exercise and enjoyment of a particular right and not to protect a right in itself.
An ownerless right is, therefore, impossibility. The owner of the right may, however, are intermediate rights being owned by the public at large?
There is a difference of opinion as to whether every right must have an object. Salmond regards the presence of an object as essential, though many writers take the opposite view. According to Salmond, as stated while mentioning the element of right in point.