lost goods

This article is written by Shubhankar Tamta

 

POSITION OF FINDER OF GOODS

According to section 71 of Indian Contract Act, a person who find goods belonging to another and takes them into his custody, is subject to the same responsibility as a bailee. Since the position of the finder of the goods is that of a bailee he is supposed to take the same amount of care with regard to the goods as is expected of a bailee under section 151. He is also subject to all the duties of a bailee, including a duty to return the goods after the true owner is found. If he refuses to return, he could be made liable for conversion.

RIGHTS OF FINDER OF GOODS

Section 168 and 169 confer certain rights on the finder of goods.

  • SECTION 168 – MAY SUE FOR SPECIFIC REWARD OFFERED :

The finder of goods has no right to sue the owner for compensation for trouble and expense voluntarily incurred by him to preserve the goods and to find out the owner, but he may retain the goods against the owner until he receives such compensation, and where the owner has offered a specific reward for the return of goods lost, the finder may sue for such reward, and may retain the goods until he receives it.

  • RIGHT OF LIEN

According to section 168, a finder of goods has no right to sue the owner for trouble and expenses voluntarily incurred by him to preserve the goods and to find the owner. He has, however, the right of particular lien in respect of those goods. He may retain the goods against the owner until he receives compensation for trouble and expense voluntarily incurred by him to preserve the goods and to find the owner

  • RIGHT OF CLAIMING THE REWARD, IF ANNOUNCED BY THE OWNER

It has been noted above that the finder has the right to retain the goods until he Is paid compensation for trouble and expense voluntarily incurred by him to preserve the goods and find the owner. In addition to that, where the owner has offered a specific reward for the return of goods lost the finder may sue for such reward and also may retain the goods until he receives it.

If the goods have already been found voluntarily, and then the owner of the goods promises to compensate the finder for his past voluntary services, the contract is binding and the owner is bound to pay the promised amount.

  • SECTION 169 – WHEN FINDER OF THING COMMONLY ON SALE MAY SELL IT:

When a thing which is commonly the subject of sale is lost, if the owner cannot with reasonable diligence be found, or if he refuses upon demand, to pay the lawful charge of the finder, finder may sell it –

  1. When the thing is in danger of perishing or losing the greater part of its value,
  2. When the lawful charge of the finder, in respect of the thing found amount to two-third of its value,
  • RIGHT TO SELL THE GOODS FOUND (SEC.169)

The finder of the goods has also been given the right to sell the goods found by him under certain circumstances mentioned in section 169.          Such a right is available to the finder of the lost goods when the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. If the owner of the goods cannot be found; or if he refuses to pay the lawful charges of the finder, and
  2. When the good is in danger of perishing its value; or when the lawful charges of the founder in respect of the thing found amount to two-third of its value.

DUTIES OF FINDER OF ANY LOST GOODS

If a person finds any lost goods he does not become the actual of those goods. He, in fact, becomes a special kind of bailee in the sense that he has to take care of the goods until the actual owner of the goods is found. Thus he possesses same duties towards the lost goods as of a bailee, and therefore finder’s position has been considered along with bailment. A finder of the lost goods has to observe following duties towards the goods he possesses:

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  1. Duty to take reasonable care of goods (section 151 & 152)

According to Section 151, the finder of goods should take such care of the goods as a man of ordinary prudence would take of his own goods. If he fails to act like an ordinary prudent man, he cannot be excused by pleading that he had taken similar care of his own goods also, and his goods have also been lost and damaged along with those of the ordinary prudent man.

According to section 152, the finder of goods in the absence of any special contract, is not responsible for the loss, destruction or deterioration of the goods, if he has taken the amount of care of it described on section 151.

  1. Duty not to make unauthorized use of goods (section 153 & 154)

According to section 153, termination of bailment by finder of good’s act inconsistent with conditions: – a contract of bailment is voidable at the option of the actual owner, if the finder of goods make any unauthorized use of the goods found inconsistent with the condition of the bailment.

According to section 154, liability of finder of goods making unauthorized use of goods bailed: – if the finder of goods makes any use of the goods found, which is not according to the conditions of the bailment, he is liable to make compensation to the owner of goods for any damage arising to the goods from or during such use of them.

  1. Duty not to mix goods (section 155 – 157)

According to Section 155, effect of mixture with owner’s consent, of this goods with finder of good’s: – if the finder of goods, with consent of the owner, mixes the goods of the owner with his own goods, the owner and the finder of goods must shall have an interest in proportion to their respective shares, in the mixture thus produced.

According to section 156, effect of mixture without owner’s consent when the goods can be separated: – when the goods mixed can be separated, the finder and the owner will remain the possessor of their respective shares. But the finder of goods is bound to bear the expense of separation, and any damage arising from the mixture.

According to section 157, effect of mixture, without owner’s consent when the goods cannot be separated: – in case, the nature of the goods is such that the owner’s cannot be separated from those of the finder’s good, it is deemed to be loss of goods and the owner cannot recover compensation for the same from the finder of goods.

  1. Duty to return goods (section 160 & 161)

According to section 160, return of goods found on expiration of time period: – it is the duty of the finder of the goods to return or deliver the goods found to the true owner as per his directions before the expiration of the time period specified by him.

According to section 161, finder of goods responsibility when the goods are not duly returned: – if by the default of the finder of goods, the goods are not returned or delivered  at the proper time, he is responsible to the loss or destruction of goods from that time.

CONCLUSION

Finder of goods is a part of quasi contract or certain relation resembling to those created by a contract. Here it would be worth nothing that finder of goods has the same criteria of responsibilities and duties towards the innocent parties as given to the bailee. This is something which is mentioned in the Indian Contract Act, 1872 under section 71.

 

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