The term finder of lost goods means a person who has found goods not belonging to him and keeps them with him. Although the Nepal Contract Act, 2056 has not defined the term finder of lost goods but under section 11.d of Nepal Contract Act, 2956 has made the provisions relating to the responsibilities of the finder of lost goods as same as the Bailee. According to this provisions when any person keeps any property of another person he has to keep it as bailment. According to the section 71 of Indian Contract Act, 1872; A person who finds goods belonging to another person and takes them in to his custody, he is subject to the same responsibility as Bailee. According to these statutory provisions, the person who finds the lost goods, is treated as equivalent as to Baliee. Example, 'A' finds a watch belonging to somebody he is finder of goods. He is bound to take the watch with him safely until the owner is find out.
Rights and duty of finder of lost goods:
Although the person, who finds goods, has no direct contract to the owner of the lost goods but he has some rights implied by the law. They are as follows:
- 6.1.1 Right to retain possession of the goods until the true owner is found:
A finder of lost goods has the right to possession of the goods against the whole world, except the true owner. But the finder never becomes the owner of the goods. The ownership will always remain with the true owner, and the finder only enjoys the rights to (retain) possession of the goods,
- 6.1.2 Right to lien over the goods for expenses:
A finder has right to retain the goods against the true owner until he receives reasonable compensation and expense incurred by him to preserve the goods and to find out true owner.
- 6.1.3 Right to sue for reward:
The finder can file the suit against the true owner to recover any reward, which was offered by the true owner for the return of lost goods, provided he came to know of the offer before actually finding out the goods. He may also retain the goods until he receives the reward.
- 6.1.4 Right to sale:
If true owner cannot be found or if he refuses upon demand to pay lawful charges of finder, the finder may sales the goods in the following conditions:
- When the owner refused to pay the expenses incurred by him.
- When the things is in danger nature or of losing the greater part of its value.
- When the lawful charges of the finder in respect of things found amount of two third of its value.
- The true owner however is entitled to get the balance of sale proceeds, if there is a surplus left after meeting the lawful charges of the finder.
Duties of the Finder of Lost Goods
The finder of lost goods has some duties implied by the law. They are as follows:
- Duty to take reasonable care of the goods as Bailee:
The finder of the lost goods has duty to take reasonable care of the goods as Bailee because he has physically possessed the goods found, under this his duties are as follows:
- To take necessary care of the goods
- Not to use for personal purpose and
- Not to mix with his own
- To retain the goods to the real owner after receiving the necessary expenses.
- Duty to find out true owner:
It is duty of the finder to make efforts to find the true owner of the goods, if the finder of lost goods fails in his duty he should inform the police about it.