Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"...Trover actions frequently concerned the finding of lost property. It could also involve cargo on ships, such as those lost at sea and later found. Trover often involved cases in which the "most correct" owner could be determined. For instance, if an envelope of bank notes or currency were to be found, the court would attempt to identify the true owner. Often this would prove to be impossible. In that case, the finder would be the next best owner and be considered the possessor. Trover cases have been described as "finders keepers, losers weepers" cases.

Trover damages came to be measured by the market value of the object, not necessarily its replacement cost if it were new. Sometimes, compensation for deprivation of use and compensation for other losses naturally and proximately caused by the wrongful taking could be added. Case law results are mixed. The plaintiff could also recover interest that would have been earned by the money value of the object and any expense (except attorney's fees) incurred in attempting to recover the object. If the taker sold the object for more than its market value, the plaintiff could receive the higher price.

However, selling the chattel could change the action to that of a true conversion (law) which was a form of theft. If the taker had made improvements on the object (e.g., repainted it), the value of such improvements are not deducted from the plaintiff's recovery unless the taking was by mistake. Early trover cases involved the keeping or taking of a bailment by the bailee (the person charged to hold them with "ordinary care").

Others concerned the use of lost chattels found by another. Who was the real owner? Early on, there was difficulty in dealing with situations where chattels held by a bailee were used by a third party. Examples could be sheep, horses, farm goods, grains or other chattels left in the care of a person who was required to engender ordinary care. If negligence led to damages, an action could be had.

A third person might use the chattel, returning it in a damaged condition. The early common law had some difficulty in dealing with this kind of situation. This led to expansions of actions in trover. Although actions in trover can be traced to the time of Bracton, and later Edward I of England, it became more clearly defined later during the reign of Henry VI of England, 1422-1461 and 1470-1471. Action in trover became a mature legal doctrine during the reign of Elizabeth I of England, 1558-1603...."

No comments:

Post a Comment