Ownership of property
9 Dec 2010
The Scottish Law Commission today publishes a Discussion Paper on "Prescription and Title to Moveable Property." This is about the way that the running of time affects title to things such as antiques and artwork.
If a museum or a collector – or indeed anyone – possesses (eg) a painting by Picasso, for many years, but on a questionable title, should there eventually come a time when the title becomes unchallengeable? (The law applies to objects of any kind, but most objects do not have a long lifespan, and few have a value that is both substantial and enduring, so in practice the issues arise predominantly for art and antiquities.)
At present the law in this area is not clear. In most other countries the question has a clear and affirmative answer.
The Commission analyses the current law, suggests possible reform options, and invites views.
Professor George Gretton, the lead Commissioner on the project, said:
"Does the passage of time convert possession of an object into ownership? Nobody knows. The law in this area is a mess and it is high time that it was sorted out. If other legal systems can sort it out, so can we."
The Commission welcomes comments by 11 March 2011, using the electronic response form where possible.
See the Project page for further details.