Table of Contents
TITLE XX - OF OCCUPANCY, POSSESSION AND PRESCRIPTION
CHAPTER I - OF OCCUPANCY
Art. 1. Occupancy is a mode of acquiring property by which a thing which belongs to nobody, becomes the property of the person who took possession of it, with the intention of acquiring a right of ownership upon it.
Art. 2. It follows from the above difinition that occupancy can only be a lawful mode of acquiring property when the thing in occupancy has no owner; when it is of a nature which admits of its being taken possession of and retained by the acquirer with the intention of keeping it as his own property.
Art. 3. There are five ways of acquiring property by occupancy, to wit:
By invention (finding) that is by discovering precious stones on the seashore or things abandoned or a treasure;
By captures from the enemy.
Art. 4. Wild beasts, birds and all the animals which are bred in the sea, the air, or upon the earth, do, as soon as they are taken, become instantly by the law of nations, the property of the captor; for it is agreeable to natural reason, that those things which have no owner, should become the property of the first occupant.
And it is not material whether they are taken by a man upon his own ground or upon the ground of another. But yet it is certain that whoever has entered into the ground of another for the sake of hunting or fowling, might have been prohibited from entering by the proprietor of the ground if he had foreseen the intent.
Wild beasts are those who enjoy their natural liberty and go wherever they please.
Art. 5. Wild beasts and fowls when taken are esteemed to be the property of the captor as long as they continue in his custody but when they have once escaped and recovered their natural liberty, the right of the captor ceases and they become the property of the first who seizes them: and they are understood to have recovered their natural liberty, if they have run or flown out of sight, and even if they are not out of sight, when it happens that they cannot without difficulty, be pursued and retaken.
Art. 6. Peacocks and pigeons are considered as wild beasts, though after every flight it is their custom to return; and with regard to these animals which go and return customarily, the rule to be observed is that they are understood to be yours as long as they appear to retain an inclination to return: but if this inclination ceases, they cease to be yours and will again become the property of them who take them.
And these animals seem then to cease to have an inclination to return when they disuse of returning during a certain time.
Art. 7. It is not lawful to kill peacocks and pigeons belonging to any body, when they shall be feeding in the fields, unless they should commit depredations in said fields; it shall likewise be unlawful to set traps for the purpose of catching them, under penalty of damages which shall be recoverable by the owner.
Art. 8. Chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and other domestic animals, shall not be considered as wild beasts, though there are species of these animals which exist in a state of natural liberty.
Therefore if the geese or fowls of any body, should take flight, they are nevertheless reckoned to belong to him, in whatever place they are found although he shall have lost sight of them; and whoever detains such animals, with a lucrative view, is understood to commit a theft.
Art. 9. Those who discover or who will find precious stones, pearls and other things of that kind on the sea shore, or other places where it is lawful for them to search for them and to take them, become masters of them.
Art. 10. He who finds a thing that is abandoned, that is, of which he who was master of it quits and relinquishes the possession and the property, not being willing to keep it any longer, becomes master of it in the same manner as if it had never belonged to any body.
Art. 11. If he who has found a thing that was lost, having done all that was possible to find out the true owner, that he might restore it to him, cannot learn who he is, he remains master of it till he who was the proper owner of it appears and proves his right: but should it not be claimed by any one at the expiration of thirty years, the finder acquires a final right to the property.
Although a treasure be not of the number of the things which are lost or relinquished, or which never belonged to any body, yet he who finds it on his own or on an unappropriated land, acquires its property; and should said treasure be found on the land of another, one half of it shall belong to the finder, and the other half to the owner of the soil.
A treasure is a thing hidden or buried in the earth on which no one can prove his property and which is discovered by chance.
Art. 13. We must not reckon in the number of things relinquished, those which one has lost, nor that which is thrown into the sea, in a danger of shipwreck, to save the vessel, nor those which are lost in a shipwreck. For although the owners of these things lose the possession of them, yet they retain the property and the right to recover them. Thus those who find things of this kind, cannot make themselves masters of them, but are obliged to restore them to their lawful owners in the manner provided for by the special laws made on that subject.
Art. 14. Moveable and immoveable things belonging to vacant successions that is to the successions which are not claimed by any heirs or successors, shall belong to the territory.
Art. 15. The manner in which the right of property may be acquired by capture made from the enemy, during a state of war, is provided by general laws for the whole union.
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