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Bona vacantia

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Bona vacantia means goods without an apparent owner in which no one claims. Such a property belongs to the State.

  • Bona vacantia is a Latin term to mean "ownerless goods"
  • Examples: Fishes, Shipwrecks, Treasure trove etc.
  • According to English Law, all ownerless property passes by law to the Crown.
  • The principle behind this system is that there is no unowned property, and if there is no other owner, the property automatically vests in the Crown.
  • In Lancaster, when a person dies within the County Palatine without leaving a will and no beneficiary, the Duchy of Lancaster, rather than the Crown, receives their estate as bona vacantia
  • This system was largely replaced the Doctrine of Escheat.
  • It includes vacant, unclaimed, or stray goods.
  • 1 Bl.Comm. 298: Those things in which nobody claims a property, and which belonged, under the common law, to the finder, except in certain instances, when they were the property of the king.

Related Topics

  • Bona Peritura - good of perishable nature
  • Bona Utlagatorum - good belonging to an outlawed person
  • Bona Waviata - good stolen by thief and thrown in his flight