Rising Tides: The Acquisition of Ownership by Alluvio in the Context of Sea Level Rise





Climate crises, sea level rise, coastal property, coastal accretion, coastal erosion, integrated coastal management


One of the most significant consequences of the global climate crisis is that the rate at which sea levels are rising has accelerated over the past 100 years and will continue to do so for the next century. The accelerated rise in the global mean sea level will inevitably affect the rights and interests of the owners and occupiers of coastal land, especially of coastal land that is bounded by the high-water mark (agri non limitati). This is because changes in the location of the high-water mark brought about by rising sea levels will result either in the acquisition of coastal property where the high-water mark moves seaward or in the loss of coastal property where the high-water mark moves landward. The law relating to the loss or acquisition of coastal property as a result of changes in the location of the high-water mark may be traced back to the common law principles governing the acquisition of ownership by alluvion (alluvio) and the loss of ownership by erosion. As part of an attempt to address the consequences of sea level rise, section 14(5) of the National Environmental: Integrated Coastal Management Act 24 of 2008 has amended some of these common law principles. The purpose of this article is to set out and critically analyse the provisions of section 14(5).


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Author Biography

Warren Freedman, University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa

BCom LLB (Wits) LLM (University Natal). School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg Campus, South Africa.




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How to Cite

Freedman, W. (2023). Rising Tides: The Acquisition of Ownership by Alluvio in the Context of Sea Level Rise. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 26, (Published on 23 November 2023) pp 1 – 31. https://doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2023/v26i0a16463



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