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Curious; when does ownership stop?

(25 Posts)
Jux Sat 22-Sep-12 03:02:29

Hi, I'm just curious about the exact moment when one's ownership of a thing ends.

Say I own something, a lamp perhaps. I have decided I don't really want it any more. My friend comes round, sees the lap, unplugged and forlorn by the front door with stuff that's going to a charity shop perhaps, and asks me about it. I say I'm either going to du,p it or I might sell it.

My friend says she has a mate who has been looking at a lamp just like it, and could she take it to give to her mate (whom I don't know). After some urging, I agree and friend takes lamp off home with her.

Some days later I ask if mate liked the lamp. Friend says yes, loves it, very grateful etc.

Then I find that my friend is selling the lamp for quite a lot of money.

At what point has that lamp ceased to be mine? At the point that I handed it over to my friend, or at the point my friend gave it to her mate, who presumably turned it down. Or is it still technically mine as I didn't give it to my friend, merely let her carry it away to give to her mate. (Or perhaps the mate never existed - would that make a difference?)

May I stress that this is an entirely fictitious situation born of a fevered imagination while I am unable to sleep!

Thank you thanks

monsterchild Sat 22-Sep-12 03:18:30

It depends. If the only reason you Gabe the lamp was so it could be given to friend, and that was the agreement, her selling it is fraud. A sale is a contract which requires both parties to agree to the terms. If she never intended to give the lamp she fraudulently represented her position.
If on the other hand you gave it not really carrying about the outcome she would own it when she took possession.
The best you could do is get the money she got for selling very likely can't get the lamp back.

monsterchild Sat 22-Sep-12 03:19:03

Sorry that should be gave the lamp

Jux Sat 22-Sep-12 11:29:04

Thank you. It all depends on the understanding between us, when friend took it away, then?

Does the fact that I asked if her mate liked it and friend said yes, have much bearing?

olgaga Sat 22-Sep-12 22:19:37

You didn't sell the lamp. You gave it. It's hers. Once it's hers, she can do what she likes with it!

There are people who Freecycle who desperately want to get rid of their junk but are mortally offended by the notion that it might be sold by the person who takes it off their hands.

Sell it yourself, or give it away. The choice is yours but once it's been given to someone else you can't dictate what they do with it.

Once it's gone, it's gone. It's none of your business what she does with it or whether the friend likes it or not.

Jux Sat 22-Sep-12 23:14:24

Now I'm a bit confused again! On the one hand, if friend never gave the lamp to her mate but took it away - apparently to do so - but instead kept it to sell, then it's fraudulent. Except, that once it's left my hands/house it's none of my business what happens to it.

So, what if I'd said to friend that if her mate didn't like it then I'd want it back?

olgaga Sun 23-Sep-12 10:54:11

Well if you'd said that, you would have a reasonable expectation of it being returned to you if the mate didn't want it.

However, if you didn't say that, then having given your friend the lamp she can do what she wants with it.

Why do you keep mentioning fraud? Do you think she deceived you into giving her the lamp? Are you just annoyed because she is going to make money out of something you chose to give away?

The question you really have to ask yourself is whether you still want to be friends with this person if you feel you have been deceived!

Why not tell her that and see what she says?

Jux Sun 23-Sep-12 11:33:55

Well, because the situation is not real (I did say that in my op). I mentioned fraud because I read of a situation similar to this and the person was told the friend who took the item had taken it fraudulently as she had no intention of giving to the person she said she would take it to, but instead tried to sell it.

It just made me wonder at what exact point something stopped belonging to you and became subject to the whims of the wind, as it were.

I'm sorry if I've wasted your time. I know that you all here on legal are very much appreciated by everyone here, particularly advice you give on relationships (where I hang out generally). I admit that in rl I wouldn't waste a lawyer's time by idle queries - unless we were chatting socially, of course. Things like this do set me wondering though.

SavoyCabbage Sun 23-Sep-12 11:38:52

I think that if you intended to give it away, it's different from if you intended to sell it. If you were going to sell it and were asked to give it to friend A to pass to friend B then you are doing a favour for A and will lose out financially but will be doing A Good Deed.

If A sells it you are not doing the good deed you thought you were doing and you are still losing financially.

WinklyFriedChicken Sun 23-Sep-12 11:44:07

The person who took physical possession of the lamp never owned it though, you work have believed it was going to the third party and the second was basically acting as a courier.

So if she had deliberately misrepresented her intentions when she took possession, that is fraud. If she had taken it to give to the third party then decided to sell it, she's committed theft from that third party.

Jux Sun 23-Sep-12 12:08:18

Savoy, that was the situation I was thinking of. I would have sold it but friend said mate would like it, so I let friend take it to give to mate.

Jux Sun 23-Sep-12 12:16:08

If friend had wanted it I would have let friend take it for herself, at which point it would have been hers to keep or sell (though I would have been very miffed if she'd sold it).

Technically, I see that the lamp would have been hers under those circumstances, but as the only reason she had it in her hands at all was - as you say - to courier it to someone else, then presumably if it never gets to the third party, it is still mine?

SavoyCabbage Sun 23-Sep-12 12:34:48

If someone said 'oh, I see you are selling your lamp. I've always admired it. I would like you to give it to me so I can sell it instead of you as I want to have the money'

It's different from 'I see you are selling your lamp. Could I have it to give to my friend Lupe as she is sitting in the dark'

izzyizin Mon 24-Sep-12 02:17:31

If your friend states that s/he will convey your lamp to a third party but the lamp does not reach its destinaton, ownership of the lamp remains with you.

izzyizin Mon 24-Sep-12 02:19:21

Woud your musings be related to a recent thread on AIBU which involved baby items worth some £500 and, from what the OP said, was a case of false representation on the part of their friend?

Jux Mon 24-Sep-12 08:51:00

Izzy, I did see that thread. That is probably what set me off - when does something stop being mine?

If I lend someone a book, then it's still mine, and I'd be thoroughly peed off if they then lent it to someone else without asking me (and particularly if that person then lost it - as has happened but years and years ago. Contributory factor to my no longer lending books!).

That sort of thing is fairly clear, but there's lots of cases where it's pretty muddy, though I guess I have a moral stance, but I had no idea of what the actual legal position is, as that's what counts in the end, if you want 'justice'.

What happened in that thread? Can't find it now - didn't post on it myself.

izzyizin Tue 25-Sep-12 04:45:15

At the time of writing, the thread 'To think this is wrong' is halfway down page 5 of AIBU and, as the OP has not come back to update, it represents yet another cliffhanger that I am unlikely to know the outcome of, Jux. Unless anyone here can enlighten me, it seems I'm destined to go to my grave without knowing wtf a 'piano wig' is grin

IMO the 'friend' as described on that thread has committed an offence contrary to section 2 of The Fraud Act 2006 which goes direct to the conduct of the accused/defendant, and which repeals section 15 'obtaining property by deception' and section 16 'obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception' of The Theft Act 1968, as it seems abundantly clear that the 'friend' told a deliberate falsehold to acquire the items rather than having made an accidental mistake which led to her receiving them.

In common with yourself, having sustained the permanent loss of books and numerous other items I've temporarily loaned to others, I now adhere to the maxim of 'neither a lender or a borrower be'.

To answer your more general question, lawful title to an item ceases to be yours at the point when you give/donate/sell it to another party - and if you acquired it by accident or deception, the other party may find that they are required to return it to a former owner who can prove title smile

On the subject of morals, Baron Denning maintained that 'without religion there is no morality and without morality there is no law'. Given that English law is inextricably intertwined with Monarchy, Church, and State, I'm incined to agree to agree with him, albeit I believe that morals as exemplified by fair and just dealing can and do exist independently of man-made or organised religion.

Jux Tue 25-Sep-12 08:38:15


Thank you Izzy. I hadn't got as far as the piano wig (and now I don't need to, so I'll give it a miss). I do have a piano, though. A beautiful Bechstein in walnut. It may need a wig. What do you think?

izzyizin Tue 25-Sep-12 20:46:42

Ash blonde looks particuarly fetching with walnut, Jux, and, depending on your piano's gender, perhaps dark grey pin stripe trousers or white broderie anglaise pantaloons could be added to its wardrobe?

Jux Tue 25-Sep-12 22:46:26

At the moment it is wearing a fetching array of scores, from Allegri to Vaugh- Williams, Beatles and Kinks, and some ghastly clashing stuff from Lord of the Rings, it is all represented on its top.

I think it is male.

Pinstripes, and anything grey would clash horribly with its case-tone so I may suggest cross dressing to it.

izzyizin Tue 25-Sep-12 23:02:05

Navy blue chinos? If they don't suit, cross dressing is frequently all the rage on the Relationships board grin

izzyizin Tue 25-Sep-12 23:03:00

<<plaintive voice>>

Does anyone know that a 'piano wig' is? <<sob>>

izzyizin Tue 25-Sep-12 23:04:27

such is my distress I've typed a t instead of a w - it's what not that

IamtheZombie Wed 26-Sep-12 00:38:22

Does this thread help, izzy?

izzyizin Wed 26-Sep-12 02:12:03

'Tis the very thread that gave rise to my quest, Zombie, and, unlike the happy kiddiwinks who were present at the OP's ds's show 'n' tell, 'twould seem I am destined to join the choir immortal without being able to identify a piano wig from a parade of other musical wigs.

<<wonders if celestial keyboard player wears a piano wig while tinkling the ivories?>>

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