Postscript on Nova Species and Kinloch Damph v. Nordvik Salmon Farms Ltd.
Roman Legal Tradition, Vol. 2, pp. 115-121, 2004
7 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2008
Date Written: October 31, 2008
The law finds it difficult to determine the ownership of the product of living things, such as human tissue or cultures developed from human cells. A person takes such property, uses it to manufacture something new and perhaps valuable, and a question of ownership arises. Does the person who provided the thing own it, or the person who turned it into something valuable? Civilian jurisdictions, with their legal heritage grounded in Roman law, offer one solution. Civilian jurisdictions would resolve such cases under the rules of specificatio (specification). A recent case from the Outer House of the Scottish Court of Session (Kinloch Damph Ltd v. Nordvik Salmon Farms Ltd.) addresses the problem. The case was properly decided, though the grounds of the decision could be improved. Specifically, on civil law principles, civilian courts ought to award ownership of a living thing to a maker/manufacturer who has altered the living thing's natural pattern of development.
Keywords: Human tissue, cell line, specification, Roman law
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