Wednesday, January 31, 2007



Do you miss the law? I know you do. So here's some law for today, straight from the depths of my study hell, I mean, my study palace.

If you entrust an item to a seller who usually deals in such items as yours, that seller can pass good title to a bona fide purchaser who buys in the ordinary course of business. What the hell does that mean? I'll tell you with an example:

If your dear, dear grandfather, on his deathbed, gave you his favorite old pocket watch, the watch he has used for probably seventy years, a watch you have never seen him without, a watch you *love* -- and you take that watch to Bob's Watch Boutique to have a hairline crack in the watch crystal repaired, Bob can sell that watch to somebody and you can NEVER GET IT BACK!!

WHAT?? How can that be???

If Bob's Watch Boutique is a shop that repairs and sells watches and if Bob sells the watch in the ordinary course of business to someone who buys the watch in good faith and for value, you're screwed. Why would Bob do something so awful and backhanded?? Maybe by accident, maybe Bob put the watch on the counter and his assistant came along later and stuck it on the display rack unawares and next thing you know Carlos the Customer walks in and sees it and buys it. It could happen so easily!

But why can't you get your watch back from Carlos? It's your watch after all, you just brought it to Bob to REPAIR not to reSELL! Well... the answer to "why" is complicated and technical and not that satisfying. And also, I'm not really sure. Of course, in real life you can probably talk to Carlos (if you can find him) and explain what happened, and explain how much you loved your grandfather and how much that watch means to you, etc, etc, and maybe he'll be moved by your story and he'll let you buy the watch back from him. But the law won't help you get the watch back.

You're not totally SOL though. You can sue Bob the Watch Guy for damages. Because he did fuck up after all. You just can't sue Carlos to compell him to return your watch because if it all goes down like in this example, Carlos will have good title to the watch. So be careful whenever you take your stuff to a repair person if that repair person's shop also sells the type of stuff you're having repaired. You might wind up like this and that would suck.


Blogger Archana said...

it is quite a coincidence... the last time i read your blog was when u wrote about negligence and all that... and now it is again law!

5:29 AM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

not so much a coincidence, archana. i'm in the middle of a two month study-binge, studying for the mother of all law exams and it's almost all i have time to think about. you'll find a lot of law on this blog until my exam is over at the end of february. and for that i apologize.

10:23 AM  

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