(possessional law), the right to conditional ownership of serfs or land by industrial enterprises in Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries. The ownership was conditional in the sense that the work force and the land could not be sold independently of the specific enterprise.
The term posessionnoe (“possession”) first appeared in a decree of Aug. 11, 1797, and posessionnoe pravo originated with the Ukase of 1721, which permitted nonaristocratic manufacturers to purchase inhabited property for purposes of industrial development. Serfdom thus expanded to industry during the period of development of large-scale manufacture. This conditional ownership of a work force existed until the abolition of serfdom and was abrogated by the decree of Mar. 16, 1861, and May 27, 1863. In some areas, conditional ownership of land existed until 1917.