1902 Encyclopedia > Flotsam, Jetsam, Ligan

Flotsam, Jetsam, Ligan

FLOTSAM, JETSAM, and LIGAN, in English law, are goods lost at sea, as distinguished from goods which come to land, which are technically designated wreck. " Jetsam is when goods are cast into the sea, and there sink and remain under water ; flotsam is where they continue swimming on the surface of the waves ; ligan is where they are sunk in the sea, but tied to a cork or buoy in order to be found again." Flotsam, jetsam, and ligan belong to the king in the absence only of the true owner. Wreck, on the other hand (i.e., goods cast on shore), was by the common law adjudged to the king in any case, because it was said by the loss of the ship all property was gone out of the original owner. This singular distinction which treated goods washed ashore as lost, and goods on and in the sea as not lost, is no doubt to be explained by the primitive practice of plundering ship wrecks. See the article WRECK, for the law relating to that subject.

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