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In modern law then, the owner of goods com- Ownership of pletely enjoys the right to maintain or recover posses- limitations
goods and its sion of them as against all others; and this right is not in modern
law. lost, though it may be suspended, by a bailment of the chattels. On the other hand, ownership of goods is in modern law subject to the following limitations :—The owner may be deprived of his property in the goods without his consent by a sale of them in market overt (f). He may also, without his consent, lose his title to money or negotiable securities gone out of his possession through theft, trespass, loss or bailment. For he cannot recover such money or securities (g) from any person, who has subsequently acquired the same in good faith and for value in the ordinary course of business. This limitation of ownership is based, in the case of money, on the inconvenience which would ensue, if a valid title could not be obtained by the
or of the documents of title thereto; in which case any sale, pledge, or other disposition of the goods made by the agent in the ordinary course of his business to a person acting in good faith withont notice of any want of authority from the owner is as valid as if expressly authorized by the owner.
2. Where the owner has given possession of his goods to another for the purpose of consignment or sale, or has shipped his goods in the name of another; when the consignee of the goods, if without notice that such other person is not the owner, may acquire a valid lien on the goods (i.e., a right to retain possession of them as security) in respect of advances made to or for such other person.
3. Where the buyer of goods allows the seller to retain possession of them, or of the documents of titlo thereto ; when the delivery or transfer by the latter, or by a mercantile agent acting for him, of such goods or documents under any sale, pledge, or other disposition, to any person receiving the same in good faith without notice of the previous sale, will be as valid as if expressly authorized by the owner.
4. Where a person having agreed to buy goods (without having acquired the property in them) obtains with the consent of the seller possession of the goods or of the documents of title thereto ; when the delivery or transfer by the former, or by a mercantile agent acting for him, of such goods or documents, under any sale, pledge or other disposition, to any person receiving the same in good faith and without notice of any lien or other right of the original seller, will be as valid as if expressly authorized by the latter ; Lee v. Butler, 1893, 2 Q. B. 318. The provisions of the Factors Act, 1889, as to cases (3, 4) above are repeated in the Sale of Goods Act, 1893, stat. 56 & 57 Vict. c. 71, s. 25. (f) Ante, p. 14.
thief to conviction ; stat. 24 & 25 (g) Not even if the same have Vict. c. 96, s. 100, replacing 7 & 8 been stolen and he prosecute the Geo. IV.c. 29, s. 57 ; cf. ante, p. 15.
transfer of current coin in the ordinary course of circulation. In the case of negotiable securities, the rule in question is founded on mercantile custom incorporated into the common law. For the term negotiable securities is applied to such written instruments, evi. dencing an obligation to pay money, as by mercantile custom recognized in law are transferable by delivery and current as money. Such are bills of exchange and cheques, promissory notes, including bank notes, and the so-called bonds payable to bearer of foreign or colonial governments (h). Again, if any chattels be out of their owner's possession and come into a foreign country, he may lose his title thereto, without his consent, by any transaction, with regard to them, which by the law of that country confers a valid title to the goods against all the world (i). This last limitation of ownership is a consequence of the physical mobility of chattels. A man may moreover lose his ownership of goods gone out of his possession, if their nature be so changed that they can no longer be recognized. Thus, if one takes my barley and makes malt therewith, I cannot take back the malt (1). Lastly, a man may unintentionally lose his property in goods by the consequences annexed by law to his own conduct; as in the above mentioned cases under the Factors Act (l), and one or two other instances (m). Under the Statute of
(h) Miller v. Race, 1 Burr. the creation of a new species of 452; 1 Smith, L. C. and notes thing, over which he exercises a thereto ; see section III. below. kind of occupancy, or original
(1) Cammell v. Sewell, 5 H. & taking of possession (Bract. fo. N. 728 ; Castrique v. Imrie, L. R. 10 a); but of course he remains 4 H. L. 414 ; Alcock v. Smith, liable in damages for taking the 1892, 1 Ch. 238.
barley. So if auother wrongfully (k) Y. B. 5 Hen. VII. 15, 16, affix my timber or bricks to land pl. 6 ; Moore, 19, 20, pl. 67 ; 2 which is not mine, I shall lose the Black. Comm. 404, 405. In this ownership of them ; Gough v. case the malt-maker acquires title Wood, 10 Times L. R. 319. to the malt per specificationem, by (2) Ante, p. 22, and n. (c).
(m) Thus at common law, if a man has acted so as to induce the belief that another was the owner or had power to dispose of his goods, he will be estopped by his conduct from recovering the goods from parties who have taken the goods for value in the belief so in.
Limitations relating to personal actions, the owner of goods gone out of his possession will lose his right to sue for their recovery, if he do not assert it within six years after the cause of action accrued (n). But as he appears to retain his right to retake his goods after the time so limited has expired (o), it seems that, in theory, he is not deprived of his ownership in such a case ( p). There are also various other ways in which the ownership of goods may be ended through the exercise of sovereign authority (9), but which can hardly be called limitations of ownership.
It remains to add that, besides the ownership of Equitablo goods which may be enjoyed at common law, a man interests in may have valuable interests in chattels personal, to personal. which he is entitled in equity only. Equitable interests in chattels have the same origin as equitable estates in land (r). The jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery was invoked to enforce trusts of chattels about the same time as it was extended to protect trusts or uses
duced; Pickard v. Sears, 4 A. & E. 469 ; Goodwin v. Robarts, 1 App. Cas. 476. And if the owner allow his goods to remain in the possession, order or disposition of another, in the other's trade or business, so that the other is the reputed owner thereof, the true owner will lose his property in the goods on the other's bankruptcy ; when the goods will be divisible under the bankruptcy law among the other's creditors ; stat. 46 & 47 Vict. c. 52, s. 44; post, Pt. II. Ch. IV. And if the owner of goods so dispose of them as to confer upon some other a voidable title thereto, on a sale by the latter, before his title has been avoided, the buyer will acquire a good title to the goods, provided he buy in good faith and without notice of the seller's defect in title ; stat. 56 & 57 Vict. c. 71, s. 23.
(n) Stat. 21 Jac. I. c. 16, 8. 3 ; of the excise laws (7 & 8 Geo. IV. Wilkinson v. Verity, L. R. 6 C. P. c. 53, s. 32), or the Merchandise 206.
Marks Act (50 & 51 Vict. c. 28, s. (0) See Litt. S. 498 ; Pollock & 12), the sale of unclaimed stolen Wright on Possession, 114. goods by the receiver of the
(P) That the right of retaking inetropolitan police under 2 & 3 is a test of ownership, see Y. B. Vict. c. 71, s. 30, or the sale of a 5 Hen. VII. 15, 16, pl. 6.
ship under proceedings against (9) Under this head may be her in rem in a Court of Admiralty grouped such causes of
jurisdiction (Castrique v. Imrie, of ownership as the forfeiture of L. R. 4 H. L. 414, 428, 429, 442). goods for smuggling (stat. 39 & (r) Williams, R. P. 153, 17th 40 Vict. c. 36, s. 177), or a breach ed.
of land (8). Trusts of chattels, however, were not affected by the Statute of Uses (t); and they are not required to be proved by writing, as are trusts of lands, tenements and hereditaments, under the Statute of Frauds (u). In other respects, the rules for the creation of trusts are the same for chattels as for land (x). Equitable interests in chattels are generally of the same nature as equitable estates in land. Thus if chattels personal be delivered or assigned to one, on trust for another simply, the former, who is the trustee, has the legal ownership. But the latter, who is called the cestui que trust, has the right in equity to compel the trustee to allow him to have the beneficial enjoyment(y). And in consequence of this right he is regarded in equity as enjoying, as against all persons bound by the trust, an interest equivalent to ownership in the chattels in question. This equitable interest of the cestui que trust is analogous to the legal ownership of the chattels, and would pass to his executor or administrator, on his death, as personal estate. But if the trustee should manage to dispose of the chattels to a bona fide purchaser for value, who had no notice of the trust, the latter would not be bound by the trust. And the cestui que trust would have no equity to recover the chattels from the purchaser so acquiring the legal ownership of them; and would have no remedy but to sue the trustee, under the equitable jurisdiction of the Court, for damages for the breach of trust (2). In these respects, the nature of an equitable interest in chattels has not been altered by the Judicature
(s) Dodd v. Browing, 1 Cal. xiii.; Hyllon v. Pollard, ib. i.; Wilflete v. Cassyn, 2 Cal. xxxiii.; 1 Spence Eq. Jur. 457, 467; Williams, R. P. 161, 17th ed.
(t) Williams, R. P. 164, 168, 17th ed.
(u) Stat. 29 Car. II. c. 3, s. 7 ; Lewin on Trusts, ch. v. s. 1 and
s. 2, i. $ 3, pp. 51, 53, 8th ed., 50, 52, 9th ed.
(x) See Richards v. Delbridge, L. R. 18 Ep. 11; Williams, R. P. 171, 172, 177, 17th ed.
(y) Lewin on Trusts, ch. xxvi. s. 1, especially S$ 23, 24.
(z) Williams, R. P. 169-171, 173, 17th ed.
Acts (a), which in 1875 transferred the original jurisdiction of the old superior Courts of Common Law and Equity to the High Court of Justice, and made provision for the enforcement of equitable, as well as legal, rights in every branch of that Court, and in the Court of Appeal establisbed at the same time (b).
§ 3. Of things in possession and in action. Besides the division of chattels into chattels real and personal (c), another important distinction exists among personal things. Such things are said to be in possession or in action ; or they are called, in law French, choses in possession or choses in action (d). Choses in Choses in possession are moveable goods, of which their owner possession. has actual possession and enjoyment, and which he can deliver over to another upon a gift or sale ; tangible things, as cattle, clothes, furniture, or the like. They are things, which may be taken and carried away by a thief, so as to be the object of larceny at common law (e) ; or which may be seized and sold by the sheriff in execution of a judgment in a personal action (f). Such things in early times formed the bulk of a man's chattels. The term choses in action appears to have choses in been applied to things, to recover or realize which, if
(a) Stats. 36 & 37 Vict. c. 66, 5. 16; 37 & 38 Vict. c. 83 ; 38 & 39 Vict. c. 77.
(6) See Williams, R. P. 157, 158, 17th ed.; Joseph v. Lyons, 15 Q. B. D. 280; Hallas v. Robinson, ib. 288.
(c) Ante, p. 5.
(d) The use of the term chose in action is not very early ; although the difference between corporeal things in their owner's possession and mere rights of action is well marked in our earliest text-writers ; Bract. fo. 10 b, 61, 407 b; Fleta, fo. 125, 126, 183; Britt. liv. i. ch. 29, $ 2, and liv. ii. ch. 2, $S 1, 10 ; see
Williams, R. P. 4–6, 29, 30,
(e) Ante, p. 8.