Types of possession

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In relation to possession of goods, there are three types of possession:

  1. Actual possession (also called 'constructive' possession).
  2. An immediate right to possession.
  3. A future or reversionary right to possession.

Action possession

Actual (or 'constructive') possession involves a party exercising the requisite level of physical control over the goods to bring them into his/her possession.

  • Requires control and intention to control.
  • Includes constructive possession:-
    • For example, you need not have it with you. (ie, a key).
    • Also, if a servant or agent has the goods at the time when they are interfered with, the master or principal can also sue in trespass, even though not in actual possession.
    • Can sue in trespass, conversion and detinue.

A right to immediate possession

Arises where the P has been in actual possession, but then has consented to another person temporarily holding possession, & that period of temporary possession has come to an end -> thus giving the P the right to IMMEDIATELY gain possession again.

  • For example, A loans car to B for 7 days. On the 7th day, A has a right of immediate possession.
  • Can sue in conversion or detinue.

A future or reversionary right to possession

A reversionary right to future possession = exists in the bailor, where a bailment is on foot. During the term of the bailment, the bailor cannot get the goods back, but instead holds a right to possession in the FUTURE, at the conclusion of the bailment.

  • For example, A loans car to B for 7 days. Before the 7th day, A has a right to future possession.
  • This is not enough possession to ground an action in conversion. found most claims.
  • BUT: Can sue in action on the case (ie, if there is a bailment at will and permanent damage done).
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