Prescription and title to moveable property

Dr Andrew Steven

Team members
Alastair Smith, Project Manager
Neil Campbell, Legal Assistant

We published a Discussion Paper on Prescription and Title to Moveable Property (DP 144) in December 2010, followed by a final Report (Scot Law Com No 228) in May 2012.

The Scottish Government gave their initial response to the Report in July 2013.

This project, which forms part of our Eighth Programme of Law Reform, is concerned with the effect of prescription on title to moveable property. The general law of prescription was addressed by this Commission in itsReport on Reform of the law Relating to Prescription and Limitation of Actions (Scot Law Com No 15 (1970)) which led to the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973. The Report, and the Act, provided for the prescriptive acquisition of heritable property. However the Report deliberately omitted any consideration of whether it should be possible to acquire ownership of moveable property by prescription, leaving that issue for future consideration. The law in this area remains unclear.

We briefly examined this question in our Memorandum, Corporeal Moveables: Usucapion or Acquisitive Prescription (CM No 30 (1976)), which tentatively proposed the introduction of a rule allowing the prescriptive acquisition of moveables. While the response to the Memorandum was generally favourable, the project was later abandoned without a report being issued. The present project revives the Commission’s interest in this neglected area. 

Following the closure of the consultation period in March 2011, we considered all responses and published our final recommendations in our Report (Scot Law Com No 228), in May 2012.

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