Bona Vacantia

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Bona Vacantia

Bona Vacantia

Full Definition of Bona Vacantia

Ownerless goods. Under English law, the general principle is that any genuinely ownerless property (of whatever type, including land) reverts to the Crown. In practice, courts rarely make the determination that property is ownerless; instead, they employ a number of devices (such as a resulting trust) to ‘find’ an owner where there would otherwise be none. The issue of bona vacantia seems to arise most often in the context of public fund-raising drives. Generally speaking, where charitable funds are raised and there is money left over once the goal has been achieved, the surplus may be deemed ownerless. Although a resulting trust could (theoretically) arise here in favour of the contributors, such a trust would likely be unworkable. (See, for instance, Re West Sussex Constabulary’s Widows, Children and Bene v Olent Fund Trusts (1971)). However, in Air Jamaica v Charlton (1999), it was decided (consistent with West Sussex and perhaps out of line with the leading authority in this matter, Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington LBC (1996)) that a resulting trust would arise where the number of contributors was small and readily ascertainable.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Bona Vacantia. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
August 08, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Bona Vacantia. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: August 08, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Bona Vacantia. Retrieved August 08, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Bona Vacantia are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 4th April, 2020 | 0 Views.