E.g. where the true owner drops an item in a ﬁeld (such as a valuable gold fountain pen)
and a ﬁnder picks it up.
Contest between the ﬁnder and the occupier of the land, assuming that the true owner is
not in the picture.
Occupier of the land – rather than the owner, although they can be the same
Occupier must demonstrate that it took active steps to control things on the land – if the
test is met the occupier has superior claim in relation to the ﬁnder.
The General Principles Governing an Occupier’s Claim
Finders’ cases are quite diverse – consider the broader framework.
Providing that the occupier has taken certain steps, the occupier has the superior claim.
The relevant question is therefore whether the occupier has manifested intention to
A careful examination of the particular facts.
Degree of control will be diﬀerent in each case.
E.g. bistro with tables on the pavement outside – pedestrian drops banknotes on the
footpath – diﬃcult for the bistro to argue that it is asserting control over the public
Bistro’s argument may be strengthened if the banknotes are found under the
bistro’s table – since the tables are monitored by the bistro’s employees.
Bistro’s argument would be even stronger if the banknotes were found inside
the bistro in an employees-only area.
South Staﬀordshire Water Co v Sharman
 2 QB 44
Lord Russell of Killowen CJ
“where a person has possession of house or land, with a manifest intention to exercise
control over it
and the things which may be upon or in it, then, if something is found on
that land, whether by an employee of the owner or by a stranger, the presumption is that
the possession of that thing is in the [occupier] of the locus in quo."
Things On or Upon Land
Hibbert v McKiernan  2 KB 142
Parker v British Airways Board
 QB 1004 (EWCA)
Parker is in the executive lounge in Heathrow airport and ﬁnds a gold bracelet.
The executive lounge is leased to British Airways – the occupier.
Parker hands it in to a BA oﬃcial – gives them his name and address and asked for it back if the
owner did not claim it.
BA waits for a period of time – before selling the gold bracelet for a signiﬁcant amount.
Parker sues BA for the money.
Rights and obligations of the ﬁnder
The ﬁnder of a chattel acquires no rights over it unless (a) it has been abandoned or
lost and (b) he takes it into his care and control.
The ﬁnder of a chattel acquires very limited rights over it if he takes it into his care
and control with dishonest intent or in the course of trespassing.
Subject to the foregoing and to point 4 below, a ﬁnder of a chattel, whilst not
acquiring any absolute property or ownership in the chattel, acquires a right to keep it
against all but the true owner or those in a position to claim through the true owner or
one who can assert a prior right to keep the chattel which was subsisting at the time
when the ﬁnder took the chattel into his care and control.
Unless otherwise agreed, any servant or agent who ﬁnds a chattel in the course of his
employment or agency and not wholly incidentally or collaterally thereto and who
takes it into his care and control does so on behalf of his employer or principal who
acquires a ﬁnder's rights to the exclusion of those of the actual ﬁnder.
A person having a ﬁnder's rights has an obligation to take such measures as in all the
circumstances are reasonable to acquaint the true owner of the ﬁnding and present
whereabouts of the chattel and to care for it meanwhile.”
Rights and liabilities of an occupier
An occupier of land has rights superior to those of a ﬁnder over chattels in or attached
to that land and an occupier of a building has similar rights in respect of chattels
attached to that building, whether in either case the occupier is aware of the
presence of the chattel.
An occupier of a building has rights superior to those of a ﬁnder over chattels upon or
in, but not attached to, that building if, but only if, before the chattel is found, he has
manifested an intention to exercise control over the building and the things which
may be upon it or in it.
An occupier who manifests an intention to exercise control over a building and the
things which may be upon or in it so as to acquire rights superior to those of a ﬁnder
is under an obligation to take such measures as in all the circumstances are
reasonable to ensure that lost chattels are found and, upon their being found,
whether by him or by a third party, to acquaint the true owner of the ﬁnding and to
care for the chattels meanwhile. The manifestation of intention may be express or
implied from the circumstances including, in particular, the circumstance that the
occupier manifestly accepts or is obliged by law to accept liability for chattels lost
upon his " premises," e.g. an innkeeper or carrier's liability.