A French word that signifies the whole collection of laws, written and unwritten, and is synonymous to our word law. It also signifies a right. With us it means right. A person was said to have droit droit, plurimum juris, and plurimum possessionis, when he had the freehold, the fee, and the property in him.
French Civil Law. That property which is acquired by making a new species out of the material of another. It is a rule of the civil law that if the thing can be reduced to the former matter, it belongs to the owner of the matter; e.g., a statue made of gold, but if it cannot so be reduced, it belongs to the person who made it; e.g., a statue made of marble.
The common law can be stated thus: 'If a man take wrongfully the material which was mine and is permanent, not adding anything thereunto than the form, only by alteration thereof, such thing, so newly formed by an exterior form notwithstanding, still remaineth mine and may be seized again by me, and I may take it out of his possession as mine own. But they say, if he add some other matter thereunto; as, of another man's leather doth make shoes or boots, or of my cloth, maketh garments, adding to the accomplishment thereof of his own, he hath thereby altered the property so that the first owner cannot seize the thing so composed, but is driven to his action to recover his remedy: however, in a case of that nature depending, the court had determined that the first owner might seize the same, notwithstanding such addition. But if the thing be transitory in its nature, by the change, as if one take raw corn or meal and thereof make bread, in that case I cannot seize the bread. So some have said, if a man take my barley and thereof make malt, because it is changed into another nature it cannot be seized by me; but the rule is: That where the material wrongfully taken away, could not at first, before any alteration, be seized; for that it could not be distinguished from other things of that kind, such as corn, money, and such like; there those things cannot be seized because the property of those things cannot be distinguished: for, if my money be wrongfully taken away, and he that taketh it do make plate thereof, or do convert my plate into money, I cannot seize the same; for that money is undistinguishable from other money of that coin. But, if a butcher take wrongfully my ox and doth kill it and bring it into the market to be sold, I may not seize upon the flesh, for it cannot be known from others of that kind; but if it be found hanging in the skin, where the mark may appear, I may seize the same, although when it was taken from me it had life and now is dead. So, if a man cut down my tree and square it into a beam of timber, I may seize the same, for he hath neither altered the nature thereof, nor added anything but exterior form thereunto; but if he lay the beam of timber into the building of a house, I may not seize the same, for being so set it is become parcel of the house, and so in supposition of law, altered in its nature.'