Theft Revision Notes

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Definition: (Theft Act 1968)
D dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently
depriving that other of it.
S.2: Dishonestly
S.3: Appropriation
S.4: Property
S.5: Belonging to another
S.6: Intention to permanently deprive.
Appropriates S.3 Theft Act
"Any assumption... of the right of an owner."
Morris 1983: Conjoined appeals both involving the switching of price labels in supermarkets.
Morris was arrested after paying a lower sum for certain items, Burnside was arrested before
paying for the goods. The question for the Lords to decide was whether an appropriation required
the assumption of all rights of an owner and also if there was an appropriation at what point in
time did this occur.
Held: There need not be an appropriation of all the rights of an owner. The appropriation took
place when there was an adverse interference with or usurpation of the rights of an owner which
was at the point of switching the label, not at the point of taking the goods from the shelf.
Pitham (1977): D went to a house to buy furniture of a man in prison, from M, his 'friend'. The
defendants argued that their handling of the goods took place before they had been appropriated
(and so were not stolen goods that could be 'handled'). Held:M appropriated the property by the
time the defendants handled it. He had assumed the rights of the owner when he took the
defendants to the house and invited them to buy the furniture. Once the appropriation was
complete, the goods were stolen and therefore the defendants had handled stolen goods.
Lawrence (1972): D a taxi driver in London took an Italian tourist who spoke little English to a
destination where the tourist offered D £1 but D took a further £6 from the tourist's wallet. The
fare should have been 10s 6d (52 1/2p). D argued that the tourist had consented to the taking of
the money from the wallet by holding it open and so D could not have appropriated it. Held:
Viscount Dilhorne: It was not necessary to establish that the appropriation had taken place
without the owner's consent. Belief or absence of belief that the owner consented to the
appropriation may be relevant to the issue of dishonesty but not to the issue of appropriation.
Gomez (1993): D an assistant at an electrical shop was asked by B to supply goods (£16,000) in
exchange for two building society cheques that D knew were stolen. D obtained authority from
the manager to supply the goods. D did not tell the manager the cheques were stolen and he had
not checked with the bank as he was instructed to do. Held: There was an appropriation even
though he acted with the authority of the shop manager. Lawrence was the appropriate authority
on the issue of appropriation. The consent of the owner was irrelevant in deciding whether an
appropriation had taken place.
Gallassoo (1993): D, a nurse responsible for the care of mentally handicapped patients, quite
properly received cheques on behalf of one of them, J, who was incapable of managing his affairs.
Although there were already two trust accounts in existence in which J was named as the

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J. The prosecution
alleged that this was to make it easier for her to make unauthorised withdrawals.…read more

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D's bank to D. So D had not obtained property belonging to another. Not
AG of Hong Kong v Chang Nai-Keung 1987: D, a director of a textile company, sold a large quantity of the
company's export quotas, at well below their proper value, transferring them to another textile company.
Held: Export quotas, although not `things in action', were a form of "other intangible property" because
such quotas may be freely bought and sold.…read more

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She was obliged to restore the value of the
chose in action, providing the transfer of funds was made under a fundamental mistake.
Gilks 1972: D was overpaid winnings by mistake by a bookmaker. D knew that the bookmaker had made
a mistake, but he kept the money. D said that "bookmakers are a race apart." It would be dishonest if
your grocer gave you too much change and you kept it, but it was not dishonest in the case of a
bookmaker.…read more

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He had the requisite intention permanently to deprive. He had no intention to return the
objects he had taken. It had not been suggested that there was a lack of dishonesty on V's part.
Lloyd & Others (1985): D a projectionist at a cinema secretly borrowed films and lent them to friends
who made illegal copies of them. The films were returned after a few hours undamaged to the cinema in
time for the performance.…read more


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