Category Archives: Lord of the Rings

Property law and the One Ring

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.

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