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Keeping eggs of trespassing hens

My neighbour’s hens keep laying their eggs in my back garden. Does this mean that I can keep the eggs? Martin Rathgar.

Hi Martin.  There is no doubt but the hens are trespassing and your neighbour will be responsible for any damage they do but the question is can you keep the eggs? 

There is conflicting law on this subject – on the one hand a hen laying eggs on your property is like fruit from a neighbours tree falling off their branches and landing in your garden.  In the case of the tree you can keep the fruit.  On the other hand I have seen legal authority, which may suggest that the eggs are like a mistaken delivery of a package to your house – you do not own the goods – merely a “bailee” and must return the package on request. 

I think the strength of the legal argument lies in the first case – that the eggs are the fruit and that they belong to you.  If a case arose where the eggs were there for sometime and were hatched and chicks emerged then the chicks would remain the property of the owner of the hen and on request you would have to return them.

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