Costello v Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabularly 2001
Facts: The defendant seized a car from the plaintiff under statute as they believe the car to be stolen because the true owner was unknown. However, the defendant never brought criminal proceedings and neither did they return the car.
The Court of Appeal ruled that police under statute had a possessionary title to the car for a specified statutory period which had ended, and the plaintiff whether he was the owner or not had a superior possessor claim to the car than the defendant as he demonstrated intention to possession and control of the car.
In the English legal systems even the paper owners and those who acquire land through possession hold relative titles. If no one else, our titles will always be relative to the crown. In Australia, the British Crown had got ‘Radical Title. This title was relative and that is why at the time it could exist alongside ‘Native Title’. However, the Crown transformed this into a full-beneficial title by mixing their labour and thus extinguishing ‘Native Title’
Re Cohen 1953
Facts: A husband and wife lived in the property of the wife. After both died (at different occasions) banknotes in unusual places such as kitchen cabinets were found.
The courts said that this money should go to the wife’s estate as she is the landowner, exercised control over the property even when the husband past away.
This case established the legal principle that the landowner, the person who possessed the land is also the owners of chattels found on it, subject to the condition that possession and control can be demonstrated.
Waverly BC v Fletcher 1996
Facts: The defendant was using a metal detector in a park owned by the claimant council and found a broach. He reported the broach and the Corner decided that the broach was not a treasure trove. The issue then was who did he broach belong to?
The Court of Appeal held that the claimant had a better right to the broach as it was found within the land, it was attached to the land rather than on the surface. It belonged to the party who owned the soil.
This and the Parker case are cases which show that possession of a good is not sufficient, whether the owner has exercised contract and the positioning of chattels is important too. They are a good cases to compare adverse possession too.
Parker v British Airways Board 1982
Facts: An air passenger found a gold bracelet in the international executive lounge of an airport. The lounge was leased to the defendants. When the gold bracelet was handed in, the plaintiff requested that it be returned to him had the true owner not been found.The defendants sold the bracelet for £850 as the true owner was not found and kept the returns. The plaintiff appealed.
The court of appeal said that the air passenger had a better right to the gold bracelet than the occupiers - British Airways Board, because it was found that the Board did not have a policy of searching for lost articles. The plaintiff was awarded £850 in damages and £50 in interest.
The plaintiff in taking the bracelet into his care and control acquired possession which was against everyone but the true owner. By handing it in he acted honestly discharging his duties of a finder. The only way the defendants could demonstrate an interest is if they showed such care and control over the things in the lounge which looking at their policy they did not.