Most broadly, cession (to cede) is the assignment of property to another entity. In international law it commonly refers to land transferred by treaty. Cession is "a surrender; a yielding; a giving up. It is voluntary, as opposed to annexation, which is forcible.

In one example, Maryland and Virginia both ceded land in 1790 in order to create what is today the District of Columbia, specified in the U.S. Constitution of the previous year. The Virginia portion was given back in 1847, a process known as retrocession.

Territory can also be ceded for payment, such as in the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska Purchase. Even fraud can be involved, such as in the Treaty of New Echota, whereby lands already taken in 1832 by outright theft of the U.S. state of Georgia were later "ceded" to the state by a Cherokee leader.

A similar concept to cession is concession, while recession is somewhat different.

Specific areas of law

Contract law

This is a yielding up, or release. France ceded Louisiana to the United States by the treaty of Paris, of April 30, 1803. Spain made a cession of East and West Florida by the treaty of February 22, 1819. Cessions have been severally made of a part of their territory by New York, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Civil law

Under the civil law system, cession is an act by which a personal claim is transferred from one party (the cedent) to another, (the cessionary). Whereas real rights are transferred by delivery, personal rights are transferred by cession. Once the obligation of the debtor is transferred, the creditor is entirely substituted. The original creditor (cedent) loses his right to claim and the new creditor (cessionary) gains that right.

Ecclesiastical law

When an ecclesiastic is created bishop, or when a parson or rector takes another benefice without dispensation, the first benefice becomes void by a legal cession, or surrender.

See also


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