Bridges v Hawkesworth

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Bridges v Hawkesworth
Court Court of Queen’s Bench
Citation 21 L.J.Q.B. 75, 91 Rev. Rep. 850
Date decided November 1851
Cited by
Hannah v Peel


  • Hawkesworth = defendant = a shop owner
  • The plaintiff, Bridges, found banknotes (worth £65 in 1850s or about $13,000 in 2024) on the floor of the defendant, Hawkesworth’s, shop.
  • Bridges left the notes with Hawkesworth, intending for him to return them to the true owner.
  • Hawksworth placed ads in the local newspaper, yet no one claimed the money
  • After three (3) years of no one claiming the notes, Bridges requested that they be given to him.
  • However, Hawkesworth refused to hand over the money.

Procedural History

  • Bridges sued Hawkesworth in the County Court of Westminster in Britain.
  • Bridges lost in the trial court.


Is ownership of a lost item found on premises open to the public vested in the

  • finder of the property or
  • the owner of the premises?


Ownership of a lost item found on premises open to the public vests in the person who found the property, not the owner of the premises.




A shop is open to the public; thus, the shop would be akin to the state of nature.