Property law puzzles lost-and-found

(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-22 13:55

The lost-property offices in the city of Shanghai are scrambling for details on how a new property law will affect the thousands of items handed into them every year.

The National People's Congress passed the country's first property law on Friday and it will go into effect on October 1. Part of it states that lost private belongings will be claimed as property of the country if they are not claimed after six months.

The law also rules that whoever finds the lost property is entitled to a maintenance fee when returning the item to its owner.

However, no further information was given and lost-property hot spots have been left scratching their heads.

"We have everything, and of course, very often, we take in lost luggage," said Han Yi, a railway station official. "Sometimes the owner refuses to pay for the transportation fee when we give them back their lost luggage."

Han said that after six months lost property is transferred to a company that is paid to keep the goods for the station.

"We have no right to just throw them away. It would be better that we have detailed rules in law to follow when dealing with lost property," Han said.

Liu Chunquan, Guangshen and Partners Law Firm's Shanghai Office, said a solution to the problem would be to set up a local government department to oversee lost property.

"I think the Civil Affairs Bureau, which runs welfare issues, would be a suitable department to take the role," Liu said. "Lost goods that have been held for longer than the legal claim period could be auctioned off as a donation to welfare funds.

"More details should be added to the current law to make it possible to regulate claiming and keeping of lost property."

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