Property law and the One Ring

By Legal Eagle

Can it really be true? Yes, it is true. The blog Law is Cool features an essay about Lord of the Rings from a property law perspective! Here is a brief extract:

Consider the following facts which seem ripped from a first year property law exam:

  1. Sauron holds ownership in the Ring through accession, by working one thing (base metals) into a new thing (a ring of power)
  2. He is dispossessed by Isildur, who now holds possession in the Ring.
  3. Isildur loses the Ring (he has a manifest intent to exclude others but no physical control) when it slips off his finger as he was swimming in the Anduin river to escape from Orcs.
  4. Déagol finds the Ring.
  5. He is dispossessed by Sméagol (a.k.a. Gollum).
  6. Gollum loses the Ring and it is finally found by Bilbo.
  7. Bilbo gifts the Ring to Frodo. Later, Aragorn (the heir of Isildur) tells Frodo to carry the ring to Mordor, making Frodo his bailee.
  8. Sam, assuming that Frodo is dead, takes the Ring according to instructions to help Frodo with the Ring in grave circumstances. Sam is acting here as a (fictional) bailee and he returns possession to Frodo after finding him still alive.
  9. At the end of the book, Gollum restores his possession of the ring. Seconds later, he and the Ring are both destroyed. At this point all property held in the Ring disappears.

Gee, I wish I’d thought of that. It is just too cool for words. My favourite part is where the priorities battle between the various parties is described. Perhaps I will use it as an example in future classes.

I have a number of thoughts on the matter, but I’ll have to wait until I’m more awake to develop them.

(via The Volokh Conspiracy)

P.S. check out the comments at both Law is Cool and the Volokh Conspiracy – hilarious.

5 Comments

  1. Posted April 5, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious!

  2. Posted April 5, 2008 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I’m thinking he knowingly distributed a highly addictive product (the lesser rings for the men, dwarves and elves), and further, that this would create an addiction for the One Ring without needing prior contact with the One Ring.

    Apart from the false advertising problem when granting the lesser rings, there’s also the possibility that the addiction/desire for the one ring created by the lesser rings might lead to handing over the one ring to the victims as compensation – although it might have to be cut into little pieces so all the holders of lesser rings who get at least some remedy via equity.

    I’m sure there are other giggles available other than merely through a property law lens.

  3. Posted April 8, 2008 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I was talking to a friend who reckons a favorite scenario when he was doing law was an ancient ring found when digging up a garden. Was it a chattel of the property, etc, etc.

  4. Lol
    Posted April 15, 2008 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    you do realise how much of a nerd you are? xx

  5. Posted April 16, 2008 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Indubitably, my dear Lol. Indeed I revel in my nerddom.

One Trackback

  1. By Skepticlawyer » Ode to Property Law on April 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    […] wouldn’t you know it, the concepts of possession and finder’s law are even relevant to the plot of Lord of the Rings (one day I must draft a problem based around this, I really […]

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