Devolution Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Devolution, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Devolution?

n. 1) Through the automatic operation of law, the transfer of title to real property. 2) n. The transfer from one person or government to another of rights, powers or a public or private office.

History and Meaning of Devolution

Devolution refers to the transfer of power, authority or property from a higher-level entity to a lower-level entity. This can occur for various reasons, such as political decentralization, regional autonomy, or a desire for more effective governance. The term is commonly used in both political and legal contexts, and it can apply to a wide range of subjects, such as land rights, government functions, and administrative responsibilities.

In the legal context, devolution can refer specifically to the transfer of title to real property through the automatic operation of law. This means that the property is transferred automatically without the need for a formal conveyance, such as a deed or bill of sale. Devolution can also apply to the transfer of other types of rights, powers or duties, such as when a government agency delegates authority to a local body.

Examples of Devolution

  1. In 1998, the UK government passed the Scotland Act, which devolved power to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

  2. Some states in the US, such as California, have devolved certain environmental regulatory functions to local agencies.

  3. In many indigenous communities around the world, land ownership is governed by a system of customary law that recognizes devolutionary principles.

  4. The devolution of estate property to the heirs of a deceased person is a common practice in probate law.

Legal Terms Similar to Devolution

  1. Delegation - the transfer of authority or responsibility from one entity to another, typically within the same organization.

  2. Decentralization - the dispersal of power and decision-making authority from a central authority to sub-national entities or individuals.

  3. Federalism - a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units, such as states or provinces.