Hannah v. Peel

King’s Bench, 1945.

[1945] K.B. 509.


Plaintiff found a nice brooch lodged in a crevice of a windowsill of a house he was stationed in during WWII. He made a good faith effort with the police to get it back to its original owner. Defendant claims property is his by virtue of the property being found on his, property. Defendant had no knowledge of the brooch being there before it was found by the Plaintiff and the Defendant also had not lived in that house prior to the Plaintiff living there. Defendant then sells the brooch at a pawn shop.


Is the brooch the defendant’s property by virtue of being found on his property? Or does the finder get to keep the property?

Arguments for Both Parties

Defendant argues that any findings in his house are the property of his house and thus himself. Plaintiff argues that he never knew about it, and would have never known about such property unless it was found.


The court holds for the plaintiff. Plaintiff receives damages in the amount that the brooch was valued for.


A man does not necessarily possess a thing, which is lying unattached on the surface of his land even though someone else does not possess the thing. The idea of what is affixed to the earth or the property is that of the property owner, but items that are unattached and lost and “movable” are the property of the finder.


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