Hannah v Peel

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Hannah v Peel
Court King’s Bench Division
Citation K.B. 509
Date decided June 13, 1945
Cited Bridges v Hawkesworth
Related Armory v de Lamirie


  • "Peel" = a British army major
  • In 1938, Peel acquired title to an aristocratic house in England
  • Despite his ownership, Peel never lived in the aforesaid house
  • During World War II, British troops were quartered in Peel's house
  • Hannah = a British corporal quartered in Peel's house
  • In 1940, Peel discovered a broach (a jewel) on a window sill in Peel's house
  • Hannah handed the broach to the police
  • After 2 years, the police gave the broach to Peel
  • Peel, then, sold the broach to a jeweler for £66
  • The jeweler turned around & sold the broach for £88
  • Hannah demanded the broach or its value in monetary form.

Procedural History

  • Hannah sued Peel
  • The British trial judge determined that the broach's true owner couldn't be identified


  • Who has the better claim to a found item: the finder or the owner of the premises on which the item was found?


Peel argued that the jewel belonged to him because he owned the house where the jewel was found.


Judge Birkett: Generally, the finder of lost property is entitled to possession against others, except for its actual owner.

Hannah is entitled to the broach. So, he is awarded £66 for the broach.


Judge Birkett: Peel never possessed the premises that he owned (meaning he wasn't living in his aristocratic house); thus, Peel couldn't possess the broach while it was on the premises (house).


The exception to the rule applied in this case is that <u>trespassers</u> may not keep what they find.