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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71144
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have 2 antiquarian books which I inherited from my father

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I have 2 antiquarian books which I inherited from my father who was a librarian at a library that was bombed during the war. The damaged books were separated fom the rest and the staff were told they could help themselves to those they wanted before they
were destroyed. No release stamp was put on them.
Now , 73 years later, I would like to sell them.
Do I have the right to do so or do they still belong to the library as I have no proof that they were given to my father and so far the library can not find proof of their existence?
Marjorie Enoch.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Will the library not release them?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The library have agreed to send them back to me
Yes, but will they sign it over to you legally?
It should be just a simple matter of removing the library paraphenalia?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Removing the stamp will damage and devalue the book so I am reluctant to do so. The auctioneers agree that the books are mine but the library in question doubt it and so they will not auction it.
The library's position seems rather inconsistent then
Are you prepared to go to court?
Are the books worth large sums?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The books are according to the auctioneers worth about 3 thousand pounds.What does going to court involve?
Ok. I see your issue.
The difficulty here is fundamentally that the library will not commit to a position one way or the other. They are happy to return the book to you suggesting that they do not claim ownership but will not allow you to sell it suggesting that they will.
The only way to resolve this is to seek a declaration of ownership from the country court. you do have the burden of proof but I suspect the court would be displeased with the library's position. You only have to show it is more likely than not that you own it lawfully. I think probably it would be decided in your favour.
Then you could sell at auction on the basis of that ruling.
There is cost in that but there is no other way unless you can persuade the library to change their mind. It is probably worth sending them a letter before action warning of the risk of this action and costs against them. That might sober them up a bit.
If not you will have to sue.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. Perhaps I can contact you if necessary after I have considered your advise?
Yes, no problem.
No problem and all the best.
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