Beach law

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The beach right ( jus Litoris even Jus naufragii ) regulates the legal conditions at the flotsam and wreckage . Flotsam includes both individual goods that are driven onto the beach as well as stranded ships or their remains ( wrecks ) and the personal property of the crew . Corresponding customs and legal norms have been handed down in Europe from pagan times . It was not until the Middle Ages that church and state norms gradually adapted them to Christian requirements , with interruptions and initially in different regions.


According to the beach law inherited from pagan and Roman times, the coastal residents were allowed to use the adjacent beach in every respect. This also included the appropriation of the beach property. Emperors Hadrian and Constantine apparently saw an opportunity to pass laws against attacks by the state authorities. According to beach law, the beach property only fell to the finder if there were no survivors, which the finder sometimes took care of themselves. In such cases, beach law has become beach robbery . The coastal inhabitants, often poor fishermen and small farmers, saw the flotsam as an additional source of income and supply. There were times when ships were deliberately misdirected in order to maintain this source; this happened z. B. by moving beacons . This occurred on almost all European coasts until the 19th century, including off the Isles of Scilly , Rügen and Amrum .

Since the beginning of the 12th century at the latest, the numerous attempts by church and state authorities to repeal the traditional beach law or to adapt it through Christian demands have been documented. In 1111, Emperor Heinrich V had canceled the beach rights against the Venetians and his opponent Pope Paschal II excluded from the church as a robber and fratricide who steals the goods of shipwrecked people. In 1238 a contract was signed between Hamburg , the residents of the Niederelbe , the Hadelern and the Wurtsaten , stating that shipwrecked people no longer became serf , but were free people. By ordinances, decrees and laws, the traditional beach law in Europe was increasingly restricted. It was initially softened to goods, sometimes also left to the sovereigns and specially selected cities.

For the German Reich in 1874, the assistance in the stranding, ensuring the Strandguts, the collection of data and the reporting to the authorities was the Strandungsordnung the beach offices handed over, which Strandvögte were subordinated. Accordingly, the flotsam was free from the entry duty. It was to be returned to the person entitled to receive it against payment of the rescue costs. The amount of the rescue costs was based on the provisions of the German Commercial Code. According to the German stranding regulations of May 17, 1874, the determination of the person entitled to receive was a matter for the beach authorities. If the authorized recipient could not be determined by the public notice procedure, objects that had been recovered from the beach in distress, as well as sea ejections and beachy goods, were transferred to the state treasury, but sunken and seaworthy goods were transferred to the salvor.

Current legal situation


In 1990, the stranding order (last amended in 1986 ) was repealed for the area of ​​application of German law by Article 35 of the Third Legal Reorganization Act of June 28, 1990 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1243 ). Since then, the right to find goods has also been valid here without restriction for flotsam . Beach property is now ownerless and can therefore be lawfully appropriated by the finder if the previous owner has given up possession of the thing with the intention of renouncing ownership ( Section 959  BGB).

United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland

Flotsam found on the shores of the UK , Canada or Ireland must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck .


  • Alfred Hitchcock shot " Reef Pirates " ( Jamaica Inn ) (1939), based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier , a "costume film" that he was unfamiliar with about a gang that lures ships to the rocks with false fire signs then to rob according to the supposed beach law.
  • In 1906 Ethel Smyth wrote an opera under the title " The Wreckers " (German "Strandrecht").
  • Enid Blyton : Five Friends 14. Five friends chase the wreckers . Bertelsmann, ISBN 3570212289
  • Daphne du Maurier: Jamaica Inn . Hodder Adults Audiobooks, ISBN 1840327839 (English version)

See also


  • Hansen, Nils: Beach Law and Beach Robbery - Comments on a customary law on the Schleswig-Holstein coasts . In: Kieler Blätter zur Volkskunde 33/2001, pp. 51–78

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Carl Kaltenborn von Stachau: Principles of the practical European law of the sea [...] . Heymann publishing house, 1831
  2. Carl Russwurm: About beach law in the Baltic provinces. ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. - Lecture in the Society for History and Archeology of the Russian Baltic Sea Provinces, 1860 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ F. Dannmeyer: Seelotsen-, Leucht- und Rettungswesen . Salzwasser-Verlag, 2011, ISBN 3-86195-862-7 , p. 78 .