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Seventeenth century Chinese porcelain, section 188 of the Law of Property Act 1925, and the family lawyer

Date:30 SEP 2016
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Seventeenth century Chinese porcelain is not the obvious starting point for an important case on ownership of chattels. However it was the context for the Chancery Division to consider the effect of s 188 of the Law of Property Act 1925 in Butler v Butler [2016] EWHC 1793 (Ch) (HHJ Simon Barker QC sitting as a judge of the High Court). It provides a very useful examination of how this section works.


The two claimants and two defendants were siblings. Their late mother amassed a collection of seventeenth century Chinese porcelain ('pots') from the transitional period between the Ming and Qing imperial dynasty periods known as the Michael Butler collection ('MBC'). In 1987 the great majority of the MBC was gifted to the parties by deed together with title to an outbuilding used as a museum. The gifted collection was known as the Butler Family collection ('BFC'). There were further smaller gifts of pots between 1989 and 1993.

In 2012 and acting on legal advice the parties' father and the defendants (but not the claimants) entered into a partnership agreement to own the remainder...

Read the full article here.