In English Law, there is an uneasy distinction between a category of fixtures and chattels. According to Kevin Gray & Susan Francis Gray, the difference between fixtures and chattels is that fixtures are "physical objects which are regarded as acceding to the realty" in opposition with chattels which are "physical objects which always retain their independent character as personalty". Fixtures are materials which will always belong to the freeholder. On the other hand, chattels are "physical objects which retain their statute as personalty even though placed in some close relation to the land and may be removed at any time by their owner". The ownership of an object found on someone else's land depends on whether it was found under the surface, or under the surface of the ground.
[...] In what circumstances may a person who finds an object on, or under the surface of, someone else's land claim ownership of the object? Is the law on this subject satisfactory? The ownership of an object found on someone else's land depends on whether it was found under the surface, or under the surface of the ground. There is then a differentiation to make between those two cases. We can first focus on the ownership of an item found under the surface of the ground. [...]
[...] In addition, there are several issues raised in the law of fixtures. According to Kevin Gray & Susan Francis Gray contemporary borderline between fixtures and chattels has become more case-specific and more context-dependant than once believed”, which means that the determination of an object being a fixture or a chattel has tended to become the judge's appreciation of the case. As well, and still according to Kevin Gray & Susan Francis Gray, legal differentiation of fixtures and chattels has always been confused by one further dimension of the issue of removability. [...]
[...] The second one focuses on a more abstract matter, but not less important: the purpose of annexation which is the intention in which the object was placed on the land. So the two tests seem at first sight very complementary and sufficient in deciding if an object is a fixture or a chattel. However, and this is where I agree with the commentator's statement, the law of fixture tends to “lack coherence and certainty”. First of all, it is often hard to determine in which intention the object was placed on the land. [...]
[...] According to Chris Chang & John Weldon (Nutcases Land Law, Third Edition), “where the object or item is found in the ground amounts treasure trove, the rightful owner is the Crown”. We can refer to the Treasure Act 1996. According to the Treasure Act 1996, and to Peter Luther & Alan Moran “when treasure is found, it vests, subject to prior interests and rights in the franchise, if there is one; otherwise, in the Crown”. Therefore, the finder of an object which was beyond the surface of the ground has not right to claim its ownership. [...]
[...] It contains two different categories: an object found under the surface of the ground does not belong to the finder and an object found on the surface of the ground belongs to the finder, under certain conditions. These two categories prevent any ambiguous interpretation of the law and cover every case of found item. Bibliography “Land Kevin Gray & Suzanne Francis Gray, Core text series 2007 “Core Statutes on Property Peter Luther & Alan Moran 2007/2008 “Land Law Keys Facts” Jacqueline Martin & Chris Turner, Second edition 2006/2007 “Land Law Nutcases”, Chris Yang & John Weldon, Third edition “Land Lawcards”, Fifth edition “Modern Land M.P. [...]
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