Imagine, if you will, the following scenario. A ship founders in the Channel and much of its cargo is washed ashore. The ship’s hull has cracked, and it requires towing to a point where it may be safely beached. The cargo is washed up along several beaches and some of it is immediately claimed by a host of local inhabitants, especially as it is useful for household supplies, DIY and also can be sold on to other interested parties. It takes six months to discover the identity of the owners of both the ship and its cargoes. In the meantime, most of the cargoes have been washed ashore and the ship has been pounded by the waves and is now a total wreck, to the point that it is written off by the insurers. By the time that the police arrive at the beaches, much of the cargo has already disappeared. I could also have mentioned the ongoing case (at the time of writing) of the Italian cruise vessel Costa Concordia, which lies on its side off the Tuscan Italian island of Giglio following a well-publicised series of errors by her master, but that is, as they say, another story.