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Hannah v. Peel

From lawbrain.com

Hannah v. Peel, 1 K.B. 509 (1945), is an English case that concerns the superiority of title in the discovery of lost property.

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Contents

Summary of Case Facts

Peel bought a home in 1938, but never inhabited it. In 1940, during World War II, the military used the home to station soldiers. Hannah, a soldier, discovered a brooch on windowsill in Peel’s home. Hannah turned the brooch over to police, who later returned it to Peel. There was never any evidence to indicate that Peel even knew of the brooch’s existence. Peel later sold the brooch. Hannah then sued Peel for either the brooch or its value. Peel argued in defense that his title to the brooch was superior to Hannah’s as the brooch was found on his property.

Issue

Who has superior title to lost property – the owner of the property on which it was found or the finder?

Holding and Law

In this case the finder of lost property holds title superior to the owner of the property on which the lost object was found. The court cited an earlier case in which they determined that the finder of lost property holds title superior to all other than the true owner. The court determined, in this case, that while a man possesses everything attached to his land he does not necessarily possess property lying unattached upon the surface. Seeing as Peel never had possession of the brooch, knowledge of its existence, or possession of the premises, Hannah’s claim to title was superior to Peel’s.

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