Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977

Publication Date:January 01, 1977


Torts (Interference withGoods) Act 1977

1977 CHAPTER 32

An Act to amend the law concerning conversion and other torts affecting goods.

[22nd July 1977]

B e it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Preliminary

Preliminary

S-1 Definition of ‘wrongful interference with goods’.

1 Definition of ‘wrongful interference with goods’.

In this Act ‘wrongful interference’, or ‘wrongful interference with goods’, means—

a ) conversion of goods (also called trover)
b ) trespass to goods
c ) negligence so far as it results in damage to goods or to an interest in goods
d ) subject to section 2, any other tort so far as it results in damage to goods or to an interest in goods
Detention of goods

Detention of goods

S-2 Abolition of detinue.

2 Abolition of detinue.

(1) Detinue is abolished.

(2) An action lies in conversion for loss or destruction of goods which a bailee has allowed to happen in breach of his duty to his bailor (that is to say it lies in a case which is not otherwise conversion, but would have been detinue before detinue was abolished).

S-3 Form of judgment where goods are detained.

3 Form of judgment where goods are detained.

(1) In proceedings for wrongful interference against a person who is in possession or in control of the goods relief may be given in accordance with this section, so far as appropriate.

(2) The relief is—

( a ) an order for delivery of the goods, and for payment of any consequential damages, or

( b ) an order for delivery of the goods, but giving the defendant the alternative of paying damages by reference to the value of the goods, together in either alternative with payment of any consequential damages, or

( c ) damages.

(3) Subject to rules of court—

( a ) relief shall be given under only one of paragraphs ( a ), ( b ) and ( c ) of subsection (2),

( b ) relief under paragraph ( a ) of subsection (2) is at the discretion of the court, and the claimant may choose between the others.

(4) If it is shown to the satisfaction of the court that an order under subsection (2)( a ) has not been complied with, the court may—

( a ) revoke the order, or the relevant part of it, and

( b ) make an order for payment of damages by reference to the value of the goods.

(5) Where an order is made under subsection (2)( b ) the defendant may satisfy the order by returning the goods at any time before execution of judgment, but without prejudice to liability to pay any consequential damages.

(6) An order for delivery of the goods under subsection (2)( a ) or ( b ) may impose such conditions as may be determined by the court, or pursuant to rules of court, and in particular, where damages by reference to the value of the goods would not be the whole of the value of the goods, may require an allowance to be made by the claimant to reflect the difference.

For example, a bailor's action against the bailee may be one in which the measure of damages is not the full value of the goods, and then the court may order delivery of the goods, but require the bailor to pay the bailee a sum reflecting the difference.

(7) Where under subsection (1) or subsection (2) of section 6 an allowance is to be made in respect of an improvement of the goods, and an order is made under subsection (2) ( a ) or ( b ), the court may assess the allowance to be made in respect of the improvement, and by the order require, as a condition for delivery of the goods, that allowance to be made by the claimant.

(8) This section is without prejudice—

( a ) to the remedies afforded by section 133 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 , or

( b ) to the remedies afforded by sections 35, 42 and 44 of the Hire-Purchase Act 1965 , or to those sections of the Hire-Purchase Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 (so long as those sections respectively remain in force), or

( c ) to any jurisdiction to afford ancillary or incidental relief.

S-4 Interlocutory relief where goods are detained.

4 Interlocutory relief where goods are detained.

(1) In this section ‘proceedings’ means proceedings for wrongful interference.

(2) On the application of any person in accordance with rules of court, the High Court shall, in such circumstances as may be specified in the rules, have power to make an order providing for the delivery up of any goods which are or may become the subject matter of subsequent proceedings in the court, or as to which any question may arise in proceedings.

(3) Delivery shall be, as the order may provide, to the claimant or to a person appointed by the court for the purpose, and shall be on such terms and conditions as may be specified in the order.

(4) The power to make rules of court under section 99 of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act 1925 or under section 7 of the Northern Ireland Act 1962 shall include power to make rules of court as to the manner in which an application for such an order can be made, and as to the circumstances in which such an order can be made; and any such rules may include such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as the authority making the rules may consider necessary or expedient.

(5) The preceding provisions, of this section shall have effect in relation to county courts as they have effect in relation to the High Court, and as if in those provisions references to rules of court and to section 99 of the said Act of 1925 or section 7 of the Northern Ireland Act 1962 included references to county court rules and to section 102 of the County Courts Act 1959 or section 146 of the County Courts Act (Northern Ireland) 1959 .

Damages

Damages

S-5 Extinction of title on satisfaction of claim for damages.

5 Extinction of title on satisfaction of claim for damages.

(1) Where damages for wrongful interference are, or would fall to be, assessed on the footing that the claimant is being compensated—

( a ) for the whole of his interest in the goods, or

( b ) for the whole of his interest in the goods subject to a reduction for contributory negligence,

payment of the assessed damages (under all heads), or as the case may be settlement of a claim for damages for the wrong (under all heads), extinguishes the claimant's title to that interest.

(2) In subsection (1) the reference to the settlement of the claim includes—

( a ) where the claim is made in court proceedings, and the defendant has paid a sum into court to meet the whole claim, the taking of that sum by the claimant, and

( b ) where the claim is made in court proceedings, and the proceedings are settled or compromised, the payment of what is due in accordance with the settlement or compromise, and

( c ) where the claim is made out of court and is settled or compromised, the payment of what is due in accordance with the settlement or compromise.

(3) It is hereby declared that subsection (1) does not apply where damages are assessed on the footing that the claimant is being compensated for the whole of his interest in the goods, but the damages paid are limited to some lesser amount by virtue of any enactment or rule of law.

(4) Where under section 7(3) the claimant accounts over to another person (the ‘third party’) so as to compensate (under all heads) the third party for the whole of his interest in the goods, the third party's title to that interest is extinguished.

(5) This section has effect subject to any agreement varying the respective rights of the parties to the agreement, and where the claim is made in court proceedings has effect subject to any order of the court.

S-6 Allowance for improvement of the goods.

6 Allowance for improvement of the goods.

(1) If in proceedings for wrongful interference against a person (the ‘improver’) who has improved the goods, it is shown that the improver acted in the mistaken but honest belief that he had a good title to them, an allowance shall be made for the extent to which, at the time as at which the goods fall to be valued in assessing damages, the value of the goods is attributable to the improvement.

(2) If, in proceedings for wrongful interference against a person (‘the purchaser’) who has purported to purchase the goods—

( a ) from the improver, or

( b ) where after such a purported sale the goods passed by a further purported sale on one or more occasions, on any such occasion,

it is shown that the purchaser acted in good faith, an allowance shall be made on the principle set out in subsection (1).

For example, where a person in good faith buys a stolen car from the improver and is sued in conversion by the true owner the damages may be reduced to reflect the improvement, but if the person who bought the stolen car from the improver sues the improver for failure of consideration, and the improver acted in good faith, subsection (3) below will ordinarily make a comparable reduction in the damages he recovers from the improver.

(3) If in a case within subsection (2) the person purporting to sell the goods acted in good faith, then in proceedings by the purchaser for recovery of the purchase price because of failure of consideration, or in any other proceedings founded on that failure of consideration, an allowance shall, where appropriate, be made on the principle set out in subsection (1).

(4) This section applies, with the necessary modifications, to a purported bailment or other disposition of goods as it applies to a purported sale of goods.

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