Escheat is the common law doctrine by which freehold property may be returned to the Crown. It is a complex and arcane aspect of our legal system affecting many hundreds of properties each year and requires specialist advice.

Our real estate team has unique expertise in relation to bona vacantia and escheat. We are The Crown Estate's sole legal adviser in the administration of freehold property that may be subject to escheat. 

We investigate and administer new escheat cases, as well as some of the many accumulated cases. Our aim is to protect The Crown Estate from risk and, where appropriate, return such property to private ownership. 

We work with a range of clients, including agencies of government, and professional and public bodies. We also provide guidance to other solicitors and members of the public who require expert advice in this area. 

Find out more in our escheat guidance note.

For bona vacantia and escheat enquiries covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland please contact us at escheat.queries@burges-salmon.com.

Areas of focus

Our bona vacantia and escheats expertise includes the following:

  • Investigation of escheat enquiries.
  • Disposal of escheated properties.
  • Covenant disputes.
  • Advise on proposed law reform.
  • Dealing with various agencies of government in relation to properties subject to escheat.
Meet the team
Richard Owen

Richard Owen Partner

  • Landowner
  • Bona Vacantia and Escheat
  • Real Estate
Zoe Longman

Zoë Longman Director

  • Head of Residential Real Estate
  • Real Estate
  • Bona Vacantia and Escheat

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