Appropriation

Appropriation occurs when a person assumes the rights of the true owner.

Appropriation is defined in The Theft Act 1968 section 3.

Appropriation occurs when a person assumes the rights of the true owner. Section 3 of the Theft Act (1968) describes appropriates in the following words

'(1) Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to an appropriation, and this includes, where he has come by the property (innocently or not) without stealing it, any later assumption of a right to it by keeping or dealing with it as owner.


(2) Where property or a right or interest in property is or purports to be transferred for value to a person acting in good faith, no later assumption by him of rights which he believed himself to be acquiring shall, by reason of any defect in the transferor’s title, amount to theft of the property.'


Generally speaking the meaning of appropriation is to take something, in other words to assume the rights of an owner.

 

The courts have also determined, through case law, that any assumption of any of the rights of the owner will suffice and that this can arise irrespective of consent. As is often the case, consideration of examples of situations which have been held to amount to an appropriation will probably help.

 

In R v Pitham and Hehl (1977) the defendant sold items of furniture which belonged to someone else. By offering to sell the furniture there had been an assumption of the rights of an owner and it was held to be an appropriation. It made no difference whether or not the items were removed from the house the defendant had still appropriated it by acting as the owner and offering it for sale.

 

In Skipp (1975) a lorry was loaded with fruit and driven away, the driver intended to steal the items in the lorry and as soon as he deviated away from his correct route on to the route where he planned to offload the fruit it was held that he had appropriated the load.

 

In Eddy v Niman (1981) the defendant loaded up a shopping trolley with items which he intended to steal from the supermarket but, unlike the case of Skipp, he never left the supermarket with the trolley, he abandoned the trolley with the items in it. He had the intention but never did anything which interfered with the rights of the owners,

 

In R v Morris (1983) the defendant entered a supermarket and changed the prices on some bottles of drink, his intention was to pay the lower price he had put on the bottles, it was held that he had appropriated the items as soon as he had changed the prices on the bottles.

 

For more information and links to these and other cases check the essays below:

'The current definition of appropriation does not give effect to Parliament's original intention in The Theft Act 1968.' Discuss the extent to which this statement is true.

Define and explain the criminal liability for theft as defined under section 1 of the Theft act 1968 including the various elements of the offence that need to be proven

 

Theft - Actus Reus (Part A) Compiled by Carol Withey, Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Greenwich, London.YouTube

Theft - Actus Reus (Part B) Compiled by Carol Withey, Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Greenwich, London.YouTube

Theft - Mens Rea Compiled by Carol Withey, Principal Lecturer in Law, University of Greenwich, London.YouTube

Law and Lawyers: Robbery and Theft - an interesting case

Theft

Criminal law revision committee

Theft Case Law – SlideShare

The Theft Acts by Edward Griew (25 May 1995)

 

 


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