"Meist in privaten Händen"
I translated this as "Most in private hands," and was rebuffed. In this structure, how might one distinguish "most" from "mostly"? (zB: "Most lands are in private hands" versus "Lands mostly in private hands.)
My dictionary of choice says, meistens and meist is never most. http://dict.leo.org/?search=meistens
I think, and this is my own interpretation, 'mostly' refers to something abstract like time or times, as in 'in most cases', 'most of the times' or as a synonym for 'in general', while 'most' actually refers to something quantitive, like in my other examples. This is not completely true anyway, since mostly can mean 'größtenteils', too. But I think it's a good rule of the thumb.
It means that most of [whatever it is] is owned by private individuals or entities--as opposed to by the government, publicly held corporations, and so on. For example: There are 600,000 artifacts from the lost city, mostly in private hands; only a few are in public museums.
More generally, “in X's hands” means that X has the power to direct or something, without necessarily owning it.