Armory (Plaintiff) was a window sweeper’s child. Armory found a jewel and brought the jewel to the Delamirie’s (Defendant) shop. The master of the shop offered the plaintiff money and took the stones without the finder’s authority.
When a person finds an abandoned property, does the finder have rights to that property against a 3rd party?
A finder of lost property obtains title sufficient to prevail over every other claimant except the true owner.
Prior Possessor rule –
- Protects an owner that cannot prove that he is the true owner.
- Protects individuals who entrust goods to others, and promotes social welfare (i.e. giving laundry to a Laundromat, the person is the prior possession, so he should need not worry of getting his/her clothes back).
- Protects the expectations of prior possessors who expect to prevail.
- It promotes peaceable possession, if prior possessors did not prevail, individuals may begin to steal property, hoping that the law would protect them.
– The finder of the jewel, though he does not by such finding acquire absolute property or ownership, but has such ownership against all but the rightful owner.
– Action will lay against the master, who gives credit to his apprentice and is answerable for his neglect (agency principles of master/servant in a workplace atmosphere).
– Unless the defendant gave the jewel back to the plaintiff, the plaintiff would be awarded damages as to what the jewel would actually be worth.
Since P found the jewel, and D is not the rightful owner, possession vest w/ the finder of the jewel.