Correlative ("corelative," UK spelling) is the term adopted by Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld to describe the philosophical relationships between fundamental legal concepts in jurisprudence.

Hohfeldian analysis

Hohfeld was concerned that there was some ambiguity in the explanation of the similarities and differences between concepts in law. Hence, with the focus on the nature of rights, he proposed a system of analysis based on "jural correlatives" and "jural opposites". A correlative is where two concepts are logically consistent and the one necessarily implies the other. When two concepts are Hohfeldian opposites (technically, logical contradictions), they are mutually exclusive.

Thus, if A has a right with regard to B, an analysis of their relationship from B's point of view must imply that B has a duty to A. An owner of land may hold four distinct entitlements: rights, privileges, powers, and immunities. Hohfeld linked each entitlement to a corelative and its opposite:

Elements Correlatives Opposites
Right Duty No Right
Privilege or Liberty No Right Duty
Power Liability Disability
Immunity Disability Liability

See also


  • Hohfeld, W. N. Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning, ed. by W.W. Cook (1919); reprint, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, (1964).
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