South Staffordshire Water Co. v. Sharman Case Brief

Summary of South Staffordshire Water Co. v. Sharman (1896)

Plaintiffs hired defendants to clean out a pool on their land. Defendants found two gold rings in bottom of the pool. Defendant gave the rings to the police, who could not find the rightful owners and thus subsequently returned the rings to the defendant. Owner sued, judge originally rules for defendant, vis-à-vis Bridges, but order is reversed on appeal by appellate court.

Reasoning was that it was the plaintiff’s land, and that possession of the land carries with it possession of everything attached to it. Legal possession rests on a real de facto possession constituted by the owner’s general right to exclude unauthorized interference.

Consistent with Bridges because in that case, the notes were dropped and found in a public part of the shop, not on private land, like the instant case.

Concurrence: a decision in the other way would encourage dishonesty.

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