Where English law insists that legal relations must be at least bilateral, African customary law appears to permit the existence of single-ended legal relations, such as, for instance, the alleged vesting of rights in property in a deity or the ancestors. This might be taken to indicate a completely different approach to the analysis of legal obligations. African law is not dominated by procedural considerations, as is English law. It may not have as exact a means as is provided by incorporation in English law for registering the creation of a new legal person. It is, therefore, instructive to see how far the three tests which one would employ in English law to decide who has legal personality, and what such legal personality implies, are applicable to African legal institutions. The first of such tests is more general and abstract; the second and third are more particular and concrete. They are:

Who (i.e. what human or other being, collection or group of beings, entity, thing, force, or idea) can figure as a member of a legal relationship?

Who can sue or be sued in a court or other dispute proceeding?

Who can hold or benefit from property in his or her own name?