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Jetsam Flotsam

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FLOTSAM, JETSAM and LIGAN, in common law, goods lost at sea, as distinguished from goods which come to land, which are technically designated wreck (q.v.). Jetsam (the same word as jettison) is when goods are cast into the sea and there sink and remain under water; flotsam is where they continue floating on the surface; ligan (or lagan) is where they are sunk in the sea, but tied to a cork or buoy in order to be found again. Flotsam, jetsam and ligan belong to the sovereign in the absence only of the true owner. Wreck, on the other hand (i.e., goods cast on shore), was by the common law adjudged to the sovereign in any case, because it was said by the loss of the ship all property was gone out of the original owner. (See WRECK.)

wreck