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Vol 22 No 1 Jan/Feb 2017

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Property and the Law of Finders

ISBN13: 9781841135755
Published: January 2010
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £50.00

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Are finders keepers? This most simple of questions has long evaded a satisfactory legal answer. Generally it seems to have been accepted that a finder acquires a property right in the object of her find and can protect it from subsequent interference, but even this turns out to be the baldest statement of principle, resting on obscure and confused authority.

This first full-length treatment of finders sets them in their legal-historical context, and discovers a fascinating area of law lying at the crossroads of crime, obligations, and property. That on the same facts a finder might be thief, bailee, and/or property right holder has clouded our conceptual analysis, and prevented us from stating simply our rules about finding. Nonetheless, when the applicable doctrines and policies of our property law are explored, and particularly the central concept of possession, we can argue confidently that, despite centuries of doubt and confusion, English law has succeeded in producing a body of law that is theoretically and practically coherent.

Property and the Law of Finders makes this argument, and will appeal to anyone specifically interested in the law of personal property, and also to those with broader concerns about the evolution of common law concepts and their ability to yield workable, practical solutions.

Commercial Law, Criminal Law
Introduction 1. The Legal Context of Armory Recovery of Lost Goods at Common Law Development of Forms of Action at Common Law Detinue The Fiction of Finding Trover and Conversion Finding as a Justificatory Excuse: 'The Law of Charity' Larceny by Finding Armory v Delamirie 2. The Possessor of Land Cases The Beginning: Right Follows Liability The Innovation: Right Follows Possession South Staffordshire Water Co v Sharman The Distraction: Evolution of the In/On Land Distinction Parker v British Airways Board The Mistake: Right Follows Circumstance of Find The Answer: Evidentiary Concessions to Proof of Possession 3. The Significance of the Facts of Loss The Relevance of Loss and Mislaying US State Common Law: Categorisation Designates Right English Common Law: Classification Influences Liability The Relevance of Hiding The Relevance of Abandonment The Significance of 'Finding' 4. The Obligations of a Finder Specifically Imposed Obligations Absence of Direct Authority Loser of Goods is a Background Consideration Honesty of Litigants Uncritical Reliance on Bailment The Finder as Bailee Liability Under General Duties Conversion Negligence Unjust Enrichment Obligations and Policy 5. Possession and the Rights of Finders Possession as a Source of Property Rights at Common Law Possession as the Basis of Trover Possession as the Basis of Ejectment From Remedy to Right The Extent of the Finder's Right The Estoppel Argument Cases of Divested Rights The Effect of a Subsequent Conversion Finders as (Relative) Owners 6. Qualifications on the Acquisition of Right Dishonesty Qualifying the Dishonest Finder's Rights Recognising a Better Right in a Third Party Trespass to Land Employment Relationships Public and Private Locations A Pervasive Right 7. Defending the Doctrines Lost Property Regulation in Other Jurisdictions Understanding English Law: Property, Tort and Crime and the Pursuit of Sensible Policy Aims Theft and Entailed Behaviour Evaluating English Law Epilogue: The Terminology of Possession and Property

Series: Inner Temple Book Prize 2011

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