Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been vari ...
, tangible property is literally anything that can be touched
, and includes both real property
property is property that is movable. In common law systems, personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In civil law systems, personal property is often called movable property or movables—any property that can be moved ...
(or moveable property), and stands in distinction to
Intangible property, also known as incorporeal property, is something that a person or corporation can have ownership of and can transfer ownership to another person or corporation, but has no physical substance, for example brand identity or ...
English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.
Principal elements of English law
Although the common law has, historically ...
and some Commonwealth
legal systems, items of tangible property are referred to as ''choses in possession'' (or a ''chose in possession'' in the singular). However, some property, despite being physical in nature, is classified in many legal systems as intangible property rather than tangible property because the right
s associated with the physical item are of far greater significance than the physical properties. Principally, these are documentary intangibles. For example, a
A promissory note, sometimes referred to as a note payable, is a legal instrument (more particularly, a financing instrument and a debt instrument), in which one party (the ''maker'' or ''issuer'') promises in writing to pay a determinate sum o ...
is a piece of paper that can be touched, but the real significance is not the physical paper, but the legal rights which the paper confers, and hence the promissory note is defined by the legal
Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The ...
rather than the physical attributes.
A unique category of property is
Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The primary functions which distinguish money are as ...
, which in some legal systems is treated as tangible property and in others as intangible property. Whilst most countries legal tender is expressed in the form of intangible property ("The Treasury
of Country X hereby promises to pay to the bearer on demand...."), in practice banknotes
are now rarely ever redeemed in any country, which has led to banknotes and coins being classified as tangible property in most modern legal systems.