Dobson v General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Plc: CA 1989

The plaintiff sought to claim under his household insurance. He sold some jewelry, accepting a building society cheque which turned out later to be stolen. He argued that his loss was ‘loss or damage caused by theft’ The insurer argued that there was no theft.
Held: The buyer had usurped the plaintiff’s rights in the property. There had been an appropriation of the property and a theft. That consent had been given, when the consent had been obtained by deception, would make no difference, nor that only a voidable title had been given. R v Morris did not overrule Lawrence, that appropriation can occur even if the owner consents. ‘The difficulties caused by the apparent conflict between the decisions in Reg. v. Lawrence [1972] A.C. 626 and Reg. v. Morris (David) [1984] A.C. 320 have provided, not surprisingly, a basis for much discussion by textbook writers and contributors of articles to law journals. It is, however, clear that their Lordships in Reg. v. Morris did not regard anything said in that case as conflicting with Reg. v. Lawrence for it was specifically referred to in Lord Roskill’s speech, with which the other members of the [Appellate] Committee all agreed, without disapproval or qualification. The only comment made was that, in Reg. v. Lawrence, the House did not have to consider the precise meaning of `appropriation’ in section 3(1) of the Act of 1968. With respect, I find this comment hard to follow in the light of the first of the questions asked in Reg. v. Lawrence and the answer to it, the passages from Viscount Dilhorne’s speech already cited, the fact that it was specifically argued `appropriates is meant in a pejorative, rather than a neutral, sense in that the appropriation is against the will of the owner,’ and finally that dishonesty was common ground. I would have supposed that the question in Reg. v. Lawrence was whether appropriation necessarily involved an absence of consent.’

Parker and Bingham LJJ
[1989] 3 All ER 927, [1989] 3 WLR 1066, [1990] 1 QB 274
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Gomez HL 3-Dec-1992
The defendant worked as a shop assistant. He had persuaded the manager to accept in payment for goods, two cheques which he knew to be stolen. The CA had decided that since the ownership of the goods was transferred on the sale, no appropriation of . .

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Updated: 27 December 2021; Ref: scu.214199