Appropriation is a key element in the law of theft. It is defined in s3 (1) of the Theft Act 1968 as 'any assumption by a person of the rights of any owner amounts to an appropriation...any later assumption of a right to it by keeping it or dealing it as owner'
The Theft Act provides a partial definition of appropriation but in the absence of any further explanation, problems of defintion soon arose. The House of Lords has had to consier the interpretation of appropriation four times.
In R v Morris, the defendant appropriated items by switching the sticky labels on items indicating their price. Additionally, touching a piece of property is an appropriation, whether or not the victim has consented to the act.
In R v Gomez, Lord Keith stated that the word 'appropriate' had a number of meanings. This can be straightforward as defined in s 3 (1) of the Theft Act 1968 or just 'taking'. In this case, it was held that act 'authorised' by the owner of the goods could still constitute wrongful appropriation of goods…