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yoidable (q), and the voluntary gift or conveyance of an idiot or lunatic seems to be absolutely void (r): in this respect the law of personal chattels is now the same as that of real estate (8). But transactions of sale carried out by a lunatic or idiot appear to be voidable only on his part, if the other party knew of his mental condition, and to be valid, if carried out by the other party in good faith, and without knowledge of his state of mind (t). Before the Married Women's Married
Women. Property Act, 1882 (u), came into operation, married women also were incapable of making any disposition of personal chattels, except such as might have been settled in equity in trust for their own separate use ; for marriage was an absolute gift in law of all the wife's choses in possession to her husband, as well those she was possessed of at the time of the marriage, as those which came to her during her coverture (x). Where a person is outlawed, or put out of the protec- Outlaw. tion of the law, as he may be by due process, if he fly from justice upon criminal proceedings against him (y), his goods and chattels become forfeited to the Crown (y). An outlaw, therefore, cannot make any valid disposition of his chattels after the title of the Crown to have them has accrued; and any previous disposition of them made with intent to avoid the forfeiture will be void (2).
(9) Bac. Abr. tit. Infancy and Age (I.), 3.
(r) Ib. tit. Idiots and Lunatics, (F).
(s) See Williams, R. P. 271– 274, 17th ed.
(1) Molton v. Camroux, 2 Ex. 487; 4 Ex. 17; Price v. Berrington, 3 Mac. & G. 486, 495—498 ; Bearan v. M'Donnell, 9 Ex. 309; Elliot v. Ince, 7 De G. M. & G. 475. 487, 488.
(u) Stat. 45 & 46 Vict. c. 75.
(a) Co. Litt. 300 a ; 1 Rop. Husb, and Wife, 169. See post, the chapter on Husband and Wife; Williams's Conveyancing Sta
Formerly, the goods of a person convicted of treason or felony were forfeited on conviction to the Crown (a): but an Act of 1870 abolished the forfeiture of chattels in this case (b). By the same Act (c), however, convicts,
or persons against whom judgment of death or penal · servitude has since the Act been pronounced or recorded
for treason or felony, are incapable, while subject to the operation of the Act, of alienating or charging any property, or of making any contract. And an administrator of any convict's property may be appointed, in whom all his real and personal property shall vest, to re-vest in the convict or his representatives, on his death, bankruptcy, completion of his term of punishment or pardon (d). But these disabilities on the part of a convict are suspended while he is lawfully at large under any licence (e).
Gifts to corporations or in charity.
There is no prohibition on the alienation of chattels personal to a corporation, such as exists in the case of land (f), nor is the alienation of chattels personal for charitable purposes placed under any restriction (g). But conveyances of chattels tending to defraud creditors are liable to become void, as against them, as we shall presently see; and so are voluntary conveyances in the event of the bankruptcy of the conveying party within ten years after their making (h).
(a) Black. Comm. ii. 421, iv. 386 ; see also stat. 9 Geo. II. c. 32, s. 3; Roberts v. Walker, 1 Russ. & M. 752, 766 ; Stokes v. Holden, 1 Keen, 145 ; Re Thompson's Trusts, 22 Beav. 506. Felons might dispose of their goods in good faith and for value, but not otherwise, after the crime and before conviction ; see previous note. Forfeiture of chattels for flight (ante, p. 9), having become practically obsolete (4 Black.
Comm. 387), was abolished by stat. 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 28, s. 5.
(6) Stat. 33 & 34 Vict. c. 23, s. 1.
(c) Sects. 6, 8.
(f) See Williams, R. P. 72, 277, 17th ed.
(g) Ib. 73.
(h) Stats. 13 Eliz. c. 5; 46 & 47 Vict. c. 52, ss. 4, 47, 48.
$ 2. Of Alienation for Debt. Choses in possession have long been liable to involuntary alienation for the payment of the debts of their owner, both in his lifetime and after his death. rule, the contracting of a debt merely gives the creditor the right to sue the debtor personally for the money due, and it is not until the former has obtained the judgment of a court of justice in his favour that he can proceed to obtain satisfaction of his claim out of the debtor's property (i). There are, however, certain cases Distress. in which chattels may be distrained and sold to satisfy a claim against their owner, without his having been sued for payment (k). The most important are the following :- In the case of rent service (1) being in arrear, the landlord is entitled by the common law to distrain all chattels (m) found upon the premises, in respect of which the rent is due (n); and is enabled by statute to have the distrained goods sold to satisfy his claim (0). The same remedy by distress is given by statute (p) in the case of rent seck, as in the case of rent reserved upon lease. Chattels may also be seized and sold, without suit, under prerogative process duly issued for ihe purpose, to satisfy a debt due from their owner to the Crown (9). And under various statutes, chattels may be distrained and sold to satisfy land tax, income tax and inhabited house duty unpaid after demand (r), and parochial or borough rates unpaid after a summons for their payment (8).
(i) See Williams, R. P. 243, see ante, p. 62; Woodfall, Land17th ed.; ante, pp. 18, 30.
lord and Tenant, pp. 505 et seq., (K) 3 Black. Comin. 6 et seq. 15th ed.
(1) See Williams, R. P. 306, (p) Stat. 4 Geo. II. c. 28, s. 5; 17th ed.
see Williams, R. P. 393, 17th ed. (m) Except such as are privi- (9) See Manning's Exchequer leged from distress, as to which Practice, pt. i. bk. i. 2nd ed.;
Woodfall, Landlord and Chitty on the Prerogatives of the Tenant, pp. 464 et seq., 15th ed. Crown, ch. xii.; stat. 28 & 29
(n) 3 Black. Comm. 8; see Vict. c. 104, s. 47. Woodfall, Landlord and Tenant, (r) Stat. 43 & 44 Vict. c. 19, ch. XI., 15th ed., as to distress ss. 85, 86. for rent generally.
(s) See stat. 12 & 13 Vict. c. 14; (0) Stat. 2 Wm. & Mary, c. 5; Index to Statutes, tit. Distress.
Execution Except in the case of seizure under a distress or against goods.
prerogative process, chattels are only liable to involuntary alienation for debt, in their owner's lifetime, in execution of a judgment obtained against him, and upon his bankruptcy. If judgment be obtained in the High Court of Justice for the recovery or payment of a sum of money, the judgment debtor's goods and chattels
may be taken in execution and sold under the writ of Writ of fieri fieri facias (fi. fa.) (t). This writ is of very ancient facias.
date, and is usually said to be given by the common law; though some suppose that its name arose from the wording of the statute of Edward I. (u), by which the writ of elegit was provided (x). The writ directs the sheriff to cause the amount of the judgment debt to be realized out of the goods and chattels of the debtor, quod fieri facias de bonis et catallis, &c.; and a sale of the goods is made by the sheriff accordingly (y). Goods, however, are not, as lands formerly were, affected by the mere entry of a judgment of a court of law against the owner. The debtor was always allowed to alienate his goods until the writ of execution was issued ; although by a fiction of law, all judicial proceedings, writs of execution included, for
(t) See Rules of the Supreme Court, 1883, Order XLII. r. 3, and Appx. H, No. 1, where the form of the writ of fi. fa. is given.
(u) Stat. 13 Edw. I. c. 18, called the Statute of Westminster the Second. See Williams, R. P. 244, 17th ed.
(C) Bac. Abr. Execution (C).
(y) The common law rule was that, under the writ of fi. fa., the sheriff could only seize such things as he could sell ; Legg v. Evans, 6 M. & W. 36, 41; but by stat. 1 & 2 Vict. c. 110, s. 12, the sheriff was empowered to seize money and bank notes well, and also tangible securities for money, such as bills of ex
change, notes, cheques, or bonds, all of which were formerly exempt from seizure; Bac. Abr. Execution (C. 2). By stat. 8 Anne, c. 18 (c. 14 in Ruffhead), s. 1, amended by 7 & 8 Vict. c. 96, s. 67, the landlord is given a right to be paid oue year's arrears of rent, or not more than four weeks' arrears where the tenement is let at a weekly rent, or not more than four terms' arrears where the tenement is let for any other term less than a year, before any goods taken in execution against his tenant are removed from off the premises; see Woodfall, Landlord and ena 523 et seq., 15th ed.
merly related back to the first day of the term to which they belonged (z). Goods, therefore, which had been sold after the first day of a term, might yet practically have been seized under a writ of fi. fa. relating back to that day, but subsequently issued. To Statute of remedy this evil, it is enacted in the Sale of Goods
Frauds. Act, 1893 (a), in place of one of the sections of the Statute of Frauds (6), that a writ of fieri facias or other writ of execution against goods shall bind the property in the goods of the execution debtor as from the time when the writ is delivered to the sheriff (c) to be executed ; and, for the better manifestation of such time, it shall be the duty of the sheriff, without fee, upon the receipt of any such writ to endorse upon the back thereof the hour, day, month, and year when he received the same. And it is further provided in the same Act of 1893 (a), in place of an enactment of 1856 (d), that no such writ shall prejudice the title to such goods acquired by any person in good faith and for valuable consideration, unless such person had at the time when he acquired his title notice that such writ or any other writ by virtue of which the goods of the execution debtor might be seized or attached had been delivered to and remained unexecuted in the hands of the sheriff. Goods and chattels may therefore be safely alienated, although judgment exist against their owner, provided a writ of execution be not actually in the hands of the sheriff; and even in this last event, a good title will be acquired by any person, who takes them in good faith and for valuable consideration, without notice of a writ of