Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Law of Finding...Finder's Keepers

rom Houghtalings Handbook ©1887

The law of finding is this: The finder has a clear title against the whole world except the owner. The proprietor of a hotel or a shop has no right to demand the property or premises. Such proprietor may make regulations in regard to lost property which will bind their employes, but they cannot bind the public. The law of finding was declared by the King's bench over 100 years ago, in a case in which the facts were these.

A person found a wallet containing a sum of money on a shop floor. He handed the wallet and contents to the shopkeeper to be returned to the owner. After three years during which the owner did not call for his property, the finder demanded the wallet and the money from the shopkeeper. The latter refused to deliver them up on the ground that they were found on the premises. The former then sued the shopkeeper, and it was held as above set forth, that against all the world but the owner, the title of the finder is perfect. And the finder has been held to stand in the place of the owner, so that he was permitted to prevail in an action against a person who found an article which the plaintiff had originally found, but subsequently lost. The police have no special rights in regard to articles lost, unless those rights are conferred by statue. Receivers of articles found are trustees for the owner or finder. They have no power in the absence of special statue to keep an article against the finder, any more than the finder has to retain an article against the owner.

end of quote

Another source:
A Dictionary of American and English Law ©1883
Lost Article, (finder is nut guilty of larceny). 14 Johns. (N. Y.) 294.

end quote

This "Findings" from Houghtalings made me think of the Possession is 9/10's of the law. Below are a couple of excerpts from other sources regarding that law.

Ten thousand a year by Samuel Warrren ©1854


The popular maxim, that " possession is nine-tenths of the law," is founded on the salutary and reasonable doctrine of the law, that the party in possession of property is presumed to be the owner until the contrary shall have been proved. Consider how intolerable, and, in fact, destructive of civil society, would be an opposite rule—if every one in the enjoyment of property were liable to be called upon to explain to any one challenging his right, how that right had been acquired ! By the operation of the rule laid down in the text, a defendant in ejectment may (except in the case of landlord and tenant) always defeat the action, simply by showing the real title to be in some third party—without showing that the defendant holds possession with the consent, or under the authority of the real owner. The defendant's evidence is thus altogether conñned to falsifying his adversary's proofs, or rebutting the presumptions which arise out of them.

Another source:
A Dictionary of American and English Law ©1883
Possession is nine-tenths of the law: This adage is not to be taken to bo true to the full extent, so as to mean that the person in possession can only he ousted by one whose title is nine times better than his, but it places in a strong light the lepil truth that every claimant must succeed by the strength of his own title and not by the weakness of his antagonist's. For instance, if the claimant be able to show a descent from the grantor of (he estate, perfect except in one link of the chain, and the man in possession be a perfect stranger, the latter shall keep the estate; and so, also, if the claimant be a natural son of the last owner and adopted by him, and declared by him to bo designed as his heir, yet if he die without making a will in his favor, a stranger in possession has a better title.— Wharton.

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