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Transfer of Movable Property under U.S. Law

Discussed from a Functional Perspective


Martin Lilja

This book discusses legal rules for three functional commercial conflict situations under the laws of the U.S.A., mainly analyzing the U.C.C., the Bankruptcy Code, Common Law and Equity. In this context, the term conflict situation is meant to address a certain type of conflict arising between certain parties – e.g. buyer, seller, creditors of buyer or seller, or other types of third parties, like former title-holders to the goods – having certain colliding interests in the same property. The three conflict situations addressed in this book are the protection of a buyer in the seller’s insolvency, the protection of a seller in the buyer’s insolvency, and the conflict between a person formerly entitled to the goods and a good faith acquirer.
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IV. The conflict between a person with older rights and a buyer from a non-owner (good faith acquisition)


The issue: The focus here is on whether a person who buys goods from a seller who is not the owner – and has no right to dispose of the goods – will have a right to keep the goods (or, theoretically, other means of protection) as against the original owner.

The rules on this conflict situation are found in the Civil Code, primarily articles 521, 522 and 524.

Art. 521. Lost or stolen thing.

One who has possession of a lost or stolen thing may not transfer its ownership to another. For purposes of this Chapter, a thing is stolen when one has taken possession of it without the consent of its owner. A thing is not stolen when the owner delivers it or transfers its ownership to another as a result of fraud.

Art. 524. Recovery of lost or stolen things.

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