Torts concerning goods

Torts Concerning Goods

7.1 Trespass to Goods

7.1.1 Introduction

1.  Trespass, meaning interference, is one of the oldest areas of tort.

2.  Trespass to goods developed alongside trespass to land and to the person, and was similar but protected personal property.

3.  Medieval law became outdated and in need of reform, so updated and clarified in Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977, but not entirely, so some common law still remains, adding confusion.

7.1.2 Trespass to Goods

1.  One of the original two torts to do with goods.

2.  Defined as ‘direct, immediate interference with personal property belonging to another person …’.

3.  Claimants are those entitled to immediate possession.

4.  Interference must be direct (Fouldes v Willoughby (1841)).

5.  The interference must be intentional in the sense that contact with the goods is intentional (Ranson v Kitner (1888)).

6.  Traditionally actionable per se (without proof of damage), but this probably does not survive (Letang v Cooper (1965)).

7.  Under s11(1) Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 the defence of contributory negligence is not available.

8.  Wheel clamping can be a trespass unless the claimant voluntarily undertook the risk of the clamping (Vine v Waltham Forest London Borough Council (2000)), where the claimant had not seen warning signs and did not appreciate the consequences of trespassing.

7.1.3 Conversion

7.1.4 Other Common Law Provisions

1.  The Act abolished a third common law action (part of conversion).

2.  In all three torts there was no remedy for a claimant who did not have possession or an immediate right to possession of the goods.

3.  So common law developed an action on the case (as in land) to challenge interference with the claimant’s reversionary interest in the goods.

7.1.5 The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977

7.1.6 Remedies

1.  In trespass to goods the claimant may recover damages or an injunction.

2.  Conversion has been modified by the Act with two possibilities:

   delivery of the goods, plus damages for consequential loss;

   if this is not possible or appropriate then the claimant can have the full value of the goods, plus damages for any consequential loss.

7.2 Product Liability

7.2.1 Introduction