Bridges v Hawkesworth – Case Brief
Bridges v Hawkesworth, (1851) 21 L.J.Q.B. 75, 15 Jur. 1079.
Facts: Bridges (P) found an envelope containing banknotes on the floor of Hawkesworth’s (D) shop. Bridges left the notes with Hawkesworth and asked him to return them to the true owner if possible. Bridges asked for the notes after they had remained unclaimed for three years and Hawkesworth refused. Bridges brought suit and appealed the trial court’s judgment for Hawkesworth.
Issue: Who has a superior claim of right to possession of lost property, the finder or the owner of the premises on which it is found?
Holding and Rule: The finder of a lost article is entitled to it as against all but the true owner.
The fact that the property was discovered on premises owned by Hawkesworth does not constitute an exception to the general rule that a finder has the superior claim of right to possession of lost property.
Bridges has a superior claim to the property.
Notes: There are some exceptions to the general common law rule favoring the finder of lost property. For example, the owner of the land on which the property is found may have superior right to ownership if it was found embedded in the land.
See Armory v. Delamirie for a property law case brief in which the court held that the finder of lost property has superior title to all but the true owner.