In the course of a conversation on Twitter, one person seemed to imply that a good that "did not have an obvious owner"Belonged to no one and therefore could be taken or degraded without problem.
I was a little surprised and so I decided to dig the subject.
Chapter 1. Position of the problem
Here is the conversation on Twitter that is behind this article:
So, we summarize ...
This person argues that if there is no "obvious owner"A good is without a master or res nullius...
Chapter 2. Penal Code Articles Cited
Simply put, these articles provide that the degradation of a property belonging to another is prohibited...
But nothing more!
If we want to address issues of abandonment, ownership or appearance of property, these items are not helpful: we turn instead to the Civil Code.
Chapter 3. What the Civil Code says
Section 3.1. Introduction
The law of property is a real headache and we could write several dissertations / theses on the subject.
Here we will only deal with two types of property and their consequences on the ownership of these properties:
- lost property;
- abandoned property.
Section 3.2. Lost property
A property is lost when the owner is involuntarily dispossessed of his property (unlike a robbery).
3.2.2. Property of a lost object
When reading the article 2276 Civil Codeparagraph 1 ("in fact furniture, possession is worth title"), It is appropriate to think that a person who finds a lost object can become the owner immediately, simply by virtue of his actual possession (subject to good faith).
This is true, but it is a precarious property at first.
Indeed, this principle is limited by paragraph 2 of this same article. The original owner will be able to claim the item in the hands of the person who found it, subject to:
- that he brings proof of his right of ownership over the object and
- within 3 years.
In case of claim of the original owner, the property of the lost object returns to him immediately.
3.2.3. The "lost property" service
To my knowledge, there is no law governing found objects: only local regulations organize the operation of found objects (ex. Order No. 2007-21381 concerning the organization of the Lost Property Service of the Prefecture of Police in Paris).
Most of the time, this by-law requires people finding an object in the street to deposit it with the lost property service or at least to declare it there.
If such a formality is not carried out, theft prosecution is quite possible (yes, even for a 10 € ticket found in the street, but this is the theory).
It is also common for lost property services to give these objects to the person who found them after 1 year and 1 day (the 3-year period mentioned in the previous paragraph starts from filing / reporting to the service found objects).
Section 3.3. Abandoned property
An abandoned property (res derelictae) is an object left by the original owner, with the intention of terminating his right of ownership and leaving the property to the first occupant.
There are special provisions for a property to be considered abandoned when it has been deposited with a professional for the purpose of being worked, shaped, repaired or cleaned (Law of 31 December 1903 on the sale of certain abandoned objects): I'll let you see if you're interested
3.3.2. Property of an abandoned object
An abandoned object may become the property of a person who finds it because the original owner has waived his right.
However, abandonment is not presumed (otherwise it would be a bit too easy).
Also, it will be the person who finds the object abandoned, in case of conflict with the owner of the object, to prove that the latter intended to abandon it (which is almost impossible most of the time, but can be deduced from the circumstances, eg trash).
Section 3.4. Conclusion
Thus, as we can see, the fact that a good is "available" in the street without indicating the name of its owner does not imply that it is "without master" (or res nullius).
These disabled seats therefore probably have an owner and the fact of "crush" (as proposed by this surfer) exposes the person who does so to criminal prosecution non-questionable (articles 322-1 of the Penal Code).