Disputes between finders and land owners

The case above deals with objects found on and under the surface of land. For centuries there have been disputes between finders and land owners about trespassing and about ownership of objects found. As the principle of property law stated, the land owner owns everything up to heaven and down to hell meaning whatever is found on the land or under the surface of land, lawfully belongs to the land owner. Throughout this essay, I will be making references mostly to the Treasure Act 1996 as well as to cases related to objects found.

As mentioned in the Treasure Act 1996, any item which is at least 300 years old and found to contain 10% of gold or silver, is considered to be treasure trove. Having found the remains of a plough thought to be from the nineteenth century, Arthur should have contacted the Secretary of State to find out whether the item was from the nineteenth century or whether it was even older. Should the item be 300 years old or even older, then it would have been considered treasure trove according to the Treasure Act 1996. Treasure trove belongs to the Crown whether it has been found in someone's back garden or anywhere else, it still belongs to the Crown. So Arthur would have no rights over it. However, since Arthur is a tenant, the land owner would all the rights to the findings as was concluded in Elwes v. Brigg Gas Co. (1886). Because the remains of the plough were made up of iron, it is most probable that it would not be considered treasure trove because the Crown is only concerned with findings of gold and silver.

The second statement made by Arthur was that he found coins which looked as if they contained gold or silver. Arthur being the finder has a duty again to inform the coroner who would assess if the coins, under the Treasure Act 1996 are treasure trove or not. This should be done within fourteen days of him finding the coins. Both the vase and the coins will be treasure trove. The coins will however, not be treasure trove if there happens to be less than 10 coins. Having jumped over his neighbour's fence in order to continue digging the soil, Arthur has trespassed over his neighbour's land and might not be rewarded. If he is rewarded then the reward will be split between him and the land owner which in this case is his neighbour. This will depend on the Secretary of State. He is not entitled to keep the coins if they are not treasure because they belong to the neighbour since they were found on his land. Arthur has no rights to them and should not be selling them at an auction. He could be prosecuted for doing so.

According to Parker v. British Airways Board [1982] QB 1004, any item found on the surface of land belongs to the owner of the land if they have exercised any control of any lost objects. If it was not stated anywhere that the lost object belongs to the owner then the finder can keep it provided he can't find the real owner after having tried to look for the owner of the so lost object. The land owner has a better claim. The finder takes the second place. Since the watch was found at his workplace, he had a duty to hand the watch over to his employer.

After having considered all the facts, it can be concluded that Arthur has no rights over any of his finds. He has is bound to inform the coroner about his findings as it is an offence to keep any objects that are considered to be treasure.