Ker & Co. v. Couden - 223 U.S. 268 (1912)
U.S. Supreme Court
Ker & Co. v. Couden, 223 U.S. 268 (1912)
Ker and Co. v. Couden
Argued January 27, 1912
Decided February 1912
223 U.S. 268
The question of ownership under the Spanish law of accessions to the shore by accretion and alluvion has been a vexed one.
The Roman law is not like a deed or a modern code prepared uno flatu, but history has played a large part in its development.
Under the civil law, the seashore flowed by the tides, unlike the bank of rivers, was public property, belonging, in Spain, to the sovereign.
Under the Spanish Law of Water of 1866, which became effective in the Philippine in 1871, lands added to the shore by accession and accretions belong to the public domain unless and until the government shall decide they are no longer needed for public utilities and shall declare them to belong to the adjacent estate.
This rule applies not only to accessions to the shore while it is washed by the tide, but also to additions which actually become dry land.
The doctrine that accessions to the shore of the sea by accretion belong to the public domain, and not to the adjacent estate, has been adopted by the leading civil law countries, including France, Italy and Spain.
In determining what law is applicable to title in the Philippines, this Court deals with Spanish law as prevailing in the Philippines, and not with law which prevails in this country, whether of mixed antecedents or the common law.
Where a case is brought up on an appeal on a single question, in regard to which there is no error, judgment below will be affirmed.
The facts, which involve the title to land in the Philippine Islands formed by action of the sea, are stated in the opinion.