Ingram v Little: 27 Jul 1960

Two ladies had a car for sale. A buyer came along. He fooled them into believing him to be someone else, and they sold him the car, after checking the name in the telephone directory. Before the cheque bounced, the rogue sold the car to the defendant from whom the ladies now sought the return of the car.
Held: Applying the rule nemo debt quod non habet, the car remained the property of original owners. Phillips v Brooke differed in that property had passed before the misrepresentation (majority). Devlin LJ dissenting: ‘The true spirit of the common law is to override theoretical distinctions when they stand in the way of doing practical justice. For the doing of justice, the relevant question in this sort of case is not whether the contract was void or voidable, but which of two innocent parties shall suffer for the fraud of a third. The plain answer is that the loss should be divided between them in such proportion as is just in all the circumstances. If it be pure misfortune, the loss should be borne equally; of the fault or imprudence of either party has caused or contributed to the loss, it should be borne by that party in the whole or in the greater part.’


Pearce LJ and Devlin LJ


[1961] 1 QB 31, [1960] EWCA Civ 1




DistinguishedPhillips v Brooks Ltd 1919
A jeweller had a ring for sale. The buyer pretended to be somebody else: ‘I am Sir George Bullough of 11 St. James’s Square.’ The jeweller had heard of Sir George Bullough and checked he lived at the address given. He released the jewellry against . .

Cited by:

FollowedLewis v Averay CA 22-Jul-1971
A private seller had parted with his car in return for a worthless cheque to a rogue who persuaded him that he was the well-known actor who played Robin Hood on television, and who sold it on to the defendant.
Held: ‘When two parties have come . .
CitedNorman Hudson v Shogun Finance Ltd CA 28-Jun-2001
A rogue had purchased a car, using a false name to obtain finance. He had then sold it to the defendant. The finance company claimed the car back.
Held: The dealer had not taken all the steps he might have done to check the identity of the . .
CitedShogun Finance Limited v Hudson HL 19-Nov-2003
Thief acquired no title and could not sell
A purchaser used a stolen driving licence to obtain credit for and purchase a car. He then purported to sell it to the respondent, and then disappeared. The finance company sought return of the car.
Held: (Lords Nicholls and Millett . .
CitedAdelson and Another v Associated Newspapers Ltd CA 9-Jul-2007
The claimant sought to add the name of a further claimant. The defendant objected, saying that it was after the expiry of the limitation period.
Held: The claimant was seeking to use the rules for substitution of parties to add a party. In . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 08 June 2022; Ref: scu.188418