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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71136
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hello, 16 years ago I had a guitar stolen during a burglary.

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16 years ago I had a guitar stolen during a burglary. Recently, this guitar has appeared on a website and I have confirmed from the serial number that this is the same guitar. Its reasonably rare.

I have informed the insurance company who settled the original claim. They have indicated that they are happy for me to take ownership of the guitar if I can retrieve it as they have no further interest in the claim - which is very sporting of them.

I have contacted the police who have asked the current owner to hold onto the guitar, but they are unsure as to whether it can be returned to me.

I would imagine that the insurance company are the legal owners, but as they have stated they are happy for me to have it does that imply that I have any rights to it?

Ideally, I'd like to return the guitar to the chap I bought it from as I think he regretted selling it when he was in need of the money, but I'm unsure as to where I stand.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

...whether I have any right to have the guitar returned to me given that:


1. I can prove ownership at the time it was stolen


2. The insurance company who settled the claim have said that they are happy for me to regain ownership should it be recovered from the current ownership.


Is that enough info?


Kind regards,




The legal situation is that you are not allowed to recover twice.

You have been paid out by the insurance company and for you to also have the guitar means that you have been unjustly enriched unfortunately.

It is true that the insurance company has said that they are happy for you to have the guitar however you have no standing in this if it is raised in court that you had already been paid out by the insurance company.

If that does become apparent then the case will be dismissed by the judge.

Insurance company on the other hand still has an interest in the guitar legally even though they may not be the least bit bothered so the only way that I can think of that you could get this would be for the insurance company to go to court for return of the guitar and for the insurance company to give it to you which is clearly something that they are not going to do.

Moving aside from that and onto the current owner, the current owner is under a duty to return stolen goods to their "owner" which in this case is the insurance company.

However the insurance company are clearly not going to pursue that.

The current owner of the guitar sues the person that sold it to him and so on and so on down the line until it gets down to the person who received the stolen goods.

At some stage the chain will fall apart because somebody will not be able to be found.

If the police can make the current owner gives the guitar to the insurance company or to you as agent of the insurance company that would work. However it seems that the police are not interested in pursuing that because of the time involved.

If they would do that, the current owner and his dilemma is not of your concern.

So, in short, if the insurance company will not bring court action to recover the item and the police will not order it to be returned to the insurance company (or to you as their agent) there is nothing you can do quite simply because your claim has already been paid out. If it had not been paid out you could take the current owner to court.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

That's great.


Thank you for clarifying the situation. I knew that the answer would either be complex, or not in my favour, but at least I'm now informed. I still have far too many other guitars, but would really like to have returned this one to its original owner.


I will see what the police offer and take it from there.


With kindest regards,



No problem

All the best