Armory v Delamirie: KBD 1722

A jeweller to whom a chimney sweep had taken a jewel he had found, took the jewel out of the socket and refused to return it. The chimney sweep sued him in trover. On the measure of damages, the court ruled ‘unless the defendant did produce the jewel, and shew it not to be of the finest water, they [the jury] should presume the strongest against him, and make the value of the best jewels the measure of their damages:’ and ‘That the finder of a jewel, though he does not by such finding acquire an absolute property or ownership, yet he has such a property as will enable him to keep it against all but the rightful owner, and consequently may maintain trover?’ The court applied the maxim ‘maxim omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem’ All things are assumed against the interests of a spoliator.
If the negligence of the defendant has led to evidence being unavailable which might otherwise have assisted the victim of that negligence, he should not have the benefit of any consequent doubt.


Pratt CJ


(1722) 1 Stra 505, [1722] EWHC KB J94, [1722] 93 ER 664




England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedAllen v Sir Alfred McAlpine and Sons Ltd CA 1968
The court described the peculiarly difficult position of a solicitor sued for the negligence of losing litigation for his client by reason of having his client’s claim struck out: ‘It is true that if the action for professional negligence were . .
CitedMalhotra v Dhawan CA 26-Feb-1997
There had been litigation as to the payment due on fees earned during the partnership. One party had destroyed the evidence which would have settled many issues. The court discussed the principle that it should presume all against a destroyer of . .
CitedGray v Haig and Son 1855
Gray was the agent for Haig and Son, selling whisky on commission. On the termination of the agency a dispute arose as to the amount of the commission due and an account was ordered. Gray had destroyed his books, which were essential to the taking . .
CitedParker v BA Board 1982
The rights and obligations of a finder were considered. The court explained the balancing exercise required of the law when deciding to whom property should be returned and how the balance should be struck: ‘The rule as stated by Pratt CJ must be . .
CitedDixon v Clement Jones Solicitors (A Firm) CA 8-Jul-2004
The defendant firm had negligently allowed a claim for damages against a firm of accountants to become statute barred. The defendants said the claim was of no or little value, since the claimant would have proceeded anyway.
Held: The court had . .
CitedDobson and Dobson v North Tyneside Health Authority and Newcastle Health Authority CA 26-Jun-1996
A post mortem had been carried out by the defendants. The claimants, her grandmother and child sought damages after it was discovered that not all body parts had been returned for burial, some being retained instead for medical research. They now . .
CitedPritchard Joyce and Hinds v Batcup and Another QBD 17-Jan-2008
The claimant solicitors sought contributions from counsel to the damages they had been obliged to pay to their client in negligence.
Held: Underhill J said: ‘My task is not to seek to decide definitively whether LL were liable in negligence to . .
CitedMount v Baker Austin CA 18-Feb-1998
The Defendant solicitors had allowed the Plaintiff’s claim to be struck out for want of prosecution. The court considered how to calculate the value of the loss of the chance of pursuing the claim: ‘1. The legal burden lies on the plaintiff to prove . .
CitedZabihi v Janzemini and Others CA 30-Jul-2009
The claimant said that he had left valuable jewelry with the defendant for sale. The defendant said at first they had been stolen, but then returned jewelry which the claimant denied was what had been left. The defendant appealed a finding that he . .
CitedChannon (T/A Channon and Co) v Ward QBD 12-May-2015
The claimant had lost significant sums through his accountancy practice, but now claimed that his insurance broker, the defendant had negligently failed to renew his professional indemnity policies, even though he had supplied policy numbers to the . .
CitedWright v McCormack QBD 1-Aug-2022
Claimants falsehood reduced award to nominal only.
The parties disputed the original authorship of bitcoin, the claimant saying he was ‘Satoshi’ that originator. The defendant published a series of tweets denying that connection.
Held: One particular publication was to be read as part of the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Evidence

Updated: 05 August 2022; Ref: scu.190236