If an individual wrongly interferes with goods of another individual then that individual will have a claim in tort. This means that the case is between the two individuals, not involving the state and will be held in a civil court.
If an individual has damaged goods belonging to another individual then a claim in negligence can be brought in just the same manner as if the damage occurred to any form of property. In order to bring a claim for negligence the following elements will need to be established:
- Duty of Care
- Breach of the Duty
- Damage or Injury
There is however specific legislation which has been developed in relation to specific torts where the harm relates simply to goods rather than any other form of property.
The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977
The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 defines wrongful interference with goods as the following:
- Conversion of goods
- Trespass to goods
- Negligence so far as it relates to damage to goods
- Any other tort which results in damage to goods
Section 2(1) of the Act abolishes the old tort of detinue. This was where there was a wrongful refusal to deliver goods to the individual entitled or in having custody or possession of an individual’s goods and subsequently losing them.
Definition of Conversion
Conversion is defined as dealing with goods in a manner inconsistent with the rights of the individual who is the true owner, whereby the individual in possession of the goods intends to deny the owners right or to assert a right inconsistent with the owners.
The key elements thus to be established are as follows:
- Possession of goods to which you are not the owner
- Intent to deny the owners right or to asset an inconsistent right
Examples of conversion are purchasing goods from a thief, selling another individual’s goods, destroying another’s goods etc.
Definition of Trespass
Trespass is defined as the immediate and direct unauthorised interference with another individuals goods.
For trespass to be proven there must be intention on the part of the defendant to deliberately interfere with another’s goods.
For more information on:
- Double Liability
- Distress damage feasant