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U.S. Supreme Court

Jover y Costas v. Insular Government, 221 U.S. 623 (1911)

Jover y Costas v. Insular Government of the Philippine Islands

Nos. 112, 113

Argued April 7, 1911

Decided May 29, 1911

221 U.S. 623


Article 46 of the Constitution of Spain as existing in 1859, providing that, in order to alienate, cede, or exchange any part of Spanish territory, the King required the authority of a special law, related to transference of national sovereignty and not to disposal of public land as property.

The laws of the Partida which affirm that the sea and its shore are among the things that are common to all men are not to be so literally construed, as held by the Spanish courts prior to the cession of the Philippine Islands, as prohibiting a grant of tidelands to one desiring to reclaim and improve them.

The Governor General of the Philippine Islands under Spanish rule possessed all the powers of the King except where otherwise provided, and a grant of lands made by him was valid unless in violation of law specially prohibiting him from making it.

Where the local authorities in the Philippine Islands, with full knowledge

Page 221 U. S. 624

of the circumstances under which a grant was made, imposed taxes on the property for many, in this case thirty-nine, years, it is persuasive proof that the grant was valid and that the Governor General did not exceed his authority in making it.

A grant of tidelands, although made upon condition of reclamation, is not defeated by failure to reclaim if the granting words import a present and immediate transfer of ownership, and so held as to a grant of such lands in the Philippine Islands where the grantee was "granted possession and ownership," and there was no express condition either precedent or subsequent that the land be reclaimed within any definite period.

Where a practical interpretation has been given to a grant of land by the public officials authorized to interpret it, full effect should be given thereto.

The appropriate method to review judgments of the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands in cases from the Court of Land Registration is by writ of error, and not by appeal.

10 Phil. 522 reversed.

The facts, which involve the validity of a grant of lands in the Philippine Islands made prior to the cession to the United States, are stated in the opinion.

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