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   Case summaries      Elwes v Brigg Gas co


Elwes v Brigg Gas co (1886) 33 ChD

A prehistoric boat was found by a tenant six feet below the surface of the land. The court held that the boat belonged to the land owner.

Chitty J

"he was in possession of the ground, not merely of the surface, but of everything that lay beneath the surface down to the centre of the earth, and consequently in possession of the boat. . . . The plaintiff then, being thus in possession of the chattel, it follows that the property in the chattel was vested in him. Obviously the right of the original owner could not be established; it had for centuries been lost or barred . . . The plaintiff, then, had a lawful possession, good against all the world, and therefore the property in the boat. In my opinion it makes no difference, in the circumstances, that the plaintiff was not aware of the existence of the boat."

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