Armory v de Lamirie

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Armory v de Lamirie
Court King's Bench
Citation 1 Strange 505, 93 Eng. Rep. 664
Date decided July 31, 1722

Facts

  • Armory = plaintiff = chimney sweep in England in the early 1700s = a small child
  • In 1722, Armory found a piece of jewelry
  • Paul de Lamerie (1688 - 1751) = a renowned silversmith
  • Armory took the jewel to de Lamerie
  • de Lamerie offered to buy the jewel for a small sum of money
  • Armory refused to sell the jewel
  • Paul de Lamerie kept the jewel anyway

Procedural History

  • Armory filed a lawsuit of trover
  • de Lamerie answered that Armory wasn't the jewel's true owner
  • Armory won in the trial court
  • The court granted Armory damages because of de Lamerie's continued refusal to return the jewel

Issues

Does a finder of lost property have a sufficient ownership interest to sue for trover?

Arguments

  • Armory argued that the jewel was his.
  • Armory argued that de Lamerie had wrongfully taken the jewel.
  • ----
  • de Lamerie argued that Armory had no right to the jewel because he had merely found it.

Holding

Lord Chief Justice Pratt: A person who finds property acquires an ownership interest superior to anyone except the rightful owner.

The finder may bring a claim for trover against anyone interfering with ownership.

Judgment

Affirmed

Rule

Finders, keepers

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