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Nemo dat quod non habet, literally meaning "no one can give what they do not have", is a legal rule, sometimes called the nemo dat rule, that states that the purchase of a possession from someone who has no ownership right to it also denies the purchaser any ownership title. It is equivalent to the civil (continental) Nemo plus iuris ad alium transferre potest quam ipse habet rule, which means "one cannot transfer to another more rights than they have". The rule usually stays valid even if the purchaser does not know that the seller has no right to claim ownership of the object of the transaction (a bona fide purchaser); however, in many cases, more than one innocent party is involved, making judgment difficult for courts and leading to numerous exceptions to the general rule that aim to give a degree of protection to bona fide purchasers and original owners. The possession of the good of title will be with the original owner.
In American law, a bona fide purchaser who unknowingly purchases and subsequently sells stolen goods will, at common law, be held liable in trover for the full market value of those goods as of the date of conversion. Since the true owner retains legal title, the seller is liable even in a chain of successive bona fide purchasers (i.e., the true owner can successfully sue the fifth bona fide purchaser in trover). However, the problem of successive bona fide purchasers can be remedied: If the jurisdiction recognises an implied warranty that the seller has title to the property (such as under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)), then the bona fide purchaser can sue the seller for breach of that implied warranty. Courts of equity traditionally also recognise various other exceptions, likely giving rise to the idea embodied in the modern UCC.
This rule is exemplified in circumstances like the Holocaust reconciliation movement, where property, such as works of art, stolen or confiscated by the Nazis was returned to the families of the original owners. Anyone who purchased the art or thought they had ownership was denied any rights over the litigious property due to the nemo dat rule.
As mentioned earlier, the nemo dat rule has numerous exceptions. Legal tender, for example, does not adhere to the rule in certain circumstances. For example, if a rogue buys goods from a bona fide merchant, then that merchant will not have to return the bills to the true owner because holding the rule to be otherwise would disrupt the economy and prevent the free flow of goods. The same may be true of other "negotiable" instruments like cheques. If Alice, a thief, steals a cheque from Bob and sells it to innocent Charlie, then Charlie is entitled to deal with the cheque, and Bob cannot claim it back from Charlie (though the name appearing on the cheque may affect the validity of such a transfer).
Another matter is the transfer of other legal rights normally granted by ownership. In 2011, a US District judge ruled that a woman who had purchased a stolen laptop could sue a device tracking company for invasion of privacy stemming from recording software installed on the laptop to facilitate its recovery after being stolen.This ruling demonstrated that bona fide purchasers are entitled to some rights by virtue of possession alone, or that nemo dat is superseded by the bona fide purchaser's right to privacy.
When dealing with real property, most American jurisdictions have codified recording statutes that will enable subsequent purchasers to divest title from the party with common law title if they qualify for protection under the recording statute. Three varieties of recording statutes exist: 1) race statutes, 2) notice statutes, and 3) race-notice statutes.
A race statute will divest common law title from a person with superior title if the subsequent purchaser recorded their deed prior to the person with superior title. A notice statute will divest common law title from a person with superior title if the subsequent purchaser had no notice (either actual or constructive – otherwise known as bona fide) of the true owner's title. A race-notice statute requires a subsequent purchaser to be bona fide and record first.
The original owner can obtain protection against the former owner through the doctrine of estoppel (see also, s 21(1) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 "unless the owner of the goods is by his conduct precluded from denying the seller's authority to sell"). Methods of the estoppel can be by words, by conduct, or by negligence.
Estoppel by words, or representation by the original owner through words that he is the true owner or has the owner's authority to sell:
Estoppel by conduct:
Mistake about identity:
In the eighteenth century at the time of William Blackstone, sales in an open market were an exception to the nemo dat principle in English law.
However, after the growth in the UK of car boot sales led to opportunities for rogues to "fence" stolen property, the Sale of Goods (Amendment) Act 1994abolished the "market overt" exception to the nemo dat rule in 1995.
In the case of Bruton v London Quadrant Housing Trust  1 AC 406, Lord Hoffman created an exception to the rule in relation to the granting of a leasehold estate in land. It is possible, though this is controversial, for a mere licensee to create a tenancy if the hallmarks of a tenancy are present. This means that the holder of a lesser right (i.e. the licensee, which is not an estate in land) can create a larger right, an estate even.
As in the United States, banknotes in Scotland are an exception to the rule. This issue arose in the 1749 case of Crawfurd v The Royal Bank , where title to a banknote issued by the Bank of Scotland that had gone missing in the post and found in the possession of the Royal Bank of Scotland was disputed.
The statute of frauds is the requirement that certain kinds of contracts be memorialized in writing, signed by the party to be charged, with sufficient content to evidence the contract.
A brocard is a legal maxim in Latin that is, in a strict sense, derived from traditional legal authorities, even from ancient Rome. The word is a variant of the Latinized name of Burchard of Worms, Bishop of Worms, Germany, who compiled 20 volumes of Ecclesiastical Rules.
A lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. The owner of the property, who grants the lien, is referred to as the lienee and the person who has the benefit of the lien is referred to as the lienor or lien holder.
In common law and statutory law, a life estate is the ownership of immovable property for the duration of a person's life. In legal terms, it is an estate in real property that ends at death when ownership of the property may revert to the original owner, or it may pass to another person. The owner of a life estate is called a "life tenant".
In criminal law, property is obtained by false pretenses when the acquisition results from intentional misrepresenting of a past or existing fact.
In common law, a deed is any legal instrument in writing which passes, affirms or confirms an interest, right, or property and that is signed, attested, delivered, and in some jurisdictions, sealed. It is commonly associated with transferring (conveyancing) title to property. The deed has a greater presumption of validity and is less rebuttable than an instrument signed by the party to the deed. A deed can be unilateral or bilateral. Deeds include conveyances, commissions, licenses, patents, diplomas, and conditionally powers of attorney if executed as deeds. The deed is the modern descendant of the medieval charter, and delivery is thought to symbolically replace the ancient ceremony of livery of seisin.
Adverse possession, sometimes colloquially described as "squatter's rights", is a legal principle in the Anglo-American common law under which a person who does not have legal title to a piece of property—usually land —may acquire legal ownership based on continuous possession or occupation of the property without the permission (licence) of its legal owner. The possession by a person is not adverse if they are in possession as a tenant or licensee of the legal owner.
A bona fide purchaser (BFP) – referred to more completely as a bona fide purchaser for value without notice – is a term used predominantly in common law jurisdictions in the law of real property and personal property to refer to an innocent party who purchases property without notice of any other party's claim to the title of that property. A BFP must purchase for value, meaning that he or she must pay for the property rather than simply be the beneficiary of a gift. Even when a party fraudulently conveys property to a BFP, that BFP will, depending on the laws of the relevant jurisdiction, take good (valid) title to the property despite the competing claims of the other party. As such, an owner publicly recording their own interests protects himself or herself from losing those to an indirect buyer, such as a qualifying buyer from a thief, who qualifies as a BFP. Moreover, so-called "race-notice" jurisdictions require the BFP himself or herself to record to enforce their rights. In any case, parties with a claim to ownership in the property will retain a cause of action against the party who made the fraudulent conveyance.
In common law jurisdictions such as England and Wales, Australia, Canada, and Ireland, a freehold is the common mode of ownership of real property, or land, and all immovable structures attached to such land. It is in contrast to a leasehold, in which the property reverts to the owner of the land after the lease period expires or otherwise lawfully terminates. For an estate to be a freehold, it must possess two qualities: immobility and ownership of it must be forever. If the time of ownership can be fixed and determined, it cannot be a freehold. It is "An estate in land held in fee simple, fee tail or for term of life."
Shogun Finance Ltd v Hudson  UKHL 62 is an English contract law case decided in the House of Lords, on the subject of mistaken identity as a basis for rescission of a contract. The case has been the subject of much criticism in failing to effectively clarify the area of mistake to identity.
The Home Equity Theft Prevention Act is a New York State law passed on July 26, 2006, to provide homeowners of residential property with information and disclosures in order to make informed decisions when approached by persons seeking a sale or transfer of the homeowner's property, particularly when homeowners are in default on their mortgage payments or the property is in foreclosure.
British Leyland Motor Corp. v Armstrong Patents Co. is a 1986 decision of the House of Lords concerning the doctrine of non-derogation from grants. This doctrine is comparable to, but somewhat broader than, the doctrine of legal estoppel, assignor estoppel, or estoppel by deed in U.S. law. Under the doctrine of non-derogation from grants, a seller of realty or goods is not permitted to take any action that would lessen the value to the buyer of the thing sold.
The shelter rule is a doctrine in the common law of property under which a grantee who has received an interest in property from a bona fide purchaser will also be protected as a bona fide purchaser, even if the grantee would not legally qualify for this status. The grantee is "sheltered" from other claims by the grantor's status as an actual bona fide purchaser.
The vast majority of states in the United States employ a system of recording legal instruments that affect the title of real estate as the exclusive means for publicly documenting land titles and interests. This system differs significantly from land registration systems, such as the Torrens system that have been adopted in a few states. The principal difference is that the recording system does not determine who owns the title or interest involved, which is ultimately determined through litigation in the courts. The system provides a framework for determining who the law will protect in relation to those titles and interests when a dispute arises.
Car and Universal Finance Co Ltd v Caldwell  1 QB 525 is an English contract law case concerning misrepresentation. It holds that an unequivocal act communicating the wish to rescind a contract can override third party rights. The communication does not need to go to the misrepresentor.
English land law is the law of real property in England and Wales. Because of its heavy historical and social significance, land is usually seen as the most important part of English property law. Ownership of land has its roots in the feudal system established by William the Conqueror after 1066, and with a gradually diminishing aristocratic presence, now sees a large number of owners playing in an active market for real estate. The modern law's sources derive from the old courts of common law and equity, along with legislation such as the Law of Property Act 1925, the Settled Land Act 1925, the Land Charges Act 1972, the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 and the Land Registration Act 2002. At its core, English land law involves the acquisition, content and priority of rights and obligations among people with interests in land. Having a property right in land, as opposed to a contractual or some other personal right, matters because it creates privileges over other people's claims, particularly if the land is sold on, the possessor goes insolvent, or when claiming various remedies, like specific performance, in court.
The South African law of sale is an area of the legal system in that country that describes rules applicable to a contract of sale, generally described as a contract whereby one person agrees to deliver to another the free possession of a thing in return for a price in money.
The Transfer of Property Act 1882 is an Indian legislation which regulates the transfer of property in India. It contains specific provisions regarding what constitutes a transfer and the conditions attached to it. It came into force on 1 July 1882.
Winkworth v Christie Manson and Woods Ltd  1 Ch 496 was a judicial decision of English High Court relating to the proper law to determine whether title passes when stolen goods are sold to another person in a foreign country.
Crawfurd v The Royal Bank (1749), also spelled Crawford v The Royal Bank, was a Court of Session case in Scotland which established the "absolute currency of money", i.e. the fungibility of banknotes.