JUDGMENTS OF OWNERSHIP - MOVEABLE PROPERTY

IN GENERAL

The Code of Civil Procedure provides that Justices of the Peace handle suits for the possession or ownership of moveable property, and the judgments of ownership of vehicles shall be recognized by the Office of Motor Vehicles in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 4 of Title 32 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. See CCP art. 4912. However, many people assume that a Justice of the Peace Court can issue a judgment recognizing them as the owner of a vehicle where there has been no legal transfer of the vehicle to them. Ownership, as defined by the Civil Code, is the right that confers on a person's direct, immediate and exclusive authority over a thing. Normally, ownership of a moveable is either gratuitous (like a donation) or for money, as in a contract of sale. Some things don't require any real formalities other than a handshake and an exchange of money accompanied by the actual delivery of the moveable property. However, titled things, such as cars and motorcycles, do not fall in this category. In fact, it is illegal to sell a titled vehicle if you don't have a title to it. The Office of Motor Vehicles has extensive criteria they use to determine whether someone has obtained ownership of a vehicle. Usually, OMV requires that the title be properly filled out, signed and notarized and that there be a separate Bill of Sale or Act of Donation, also properly filled out, signed and notarized.