The Legal Rights of a Finder: Challenges and Prospects


  • Arinze Vivian Chinelo Faculty of Law Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.


Legal, Rights, Finder, Possession, Orthodoxy, Lost, Mislaid, Found


A person who finds goods belonging to another and takes them into his custody is in the same position as a bailee. He is obligated to all the responsibilities of a bailee including the duty to return the goods after the true owner is found. The research aimed at tracing the provenance and development of the rule that possession generates a general property right at common law, presenting a view that is slightly skeptical of the orthodoxy. Beyond simple moral considerations, the paper evaluated the legal principles of “lost and found” which govern this research and being ones which jurists have debated over the centuries. Hence this work assessed the historical overview of these issues and quite extensively analyzed some of the complexities associated with this field of personal property law. The adopted methodology is doctrinal with primary and secondary sources on law and possession aided by international intellections, textbooks, journal articles, newspapers and online materials. The discourse further examined enormously the challenges and prospects surrounding the concept of the finder’s rights, the basis for enforcement in the event of breach on both parties as well as the effects of the principles governing the conception. The options open to the parties and the limitations were also critically appraised. The article finally considered the principles in other jurisdictions concluding with its findings that a finder has no right to sue the owner for compensation for the expenses incurred in keeping the goods but has the right to retain the goods until the compensation is paid.

Author Biography

Arinze Vivian Chinelo, Faculty of Law Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.

Arinze Vivian Chinelo, Lecturer, Faculty of Law Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.