King’s Norton Metal Co Ltd v Edridge Merrett and Co Ltd: CA 1879

A crook ordered some brass rivet wire from a metal manufacturer. On his stationery he represented falsely that he was in business in a big way, running a large factory and having several depots and agencies. The manufacturer supplied the goods but was not paid.
Held: King’s Norton was unable to recover the goods or their value from the third party to whom the crook subsequently sold them. A dealer who is induced by a rogue acting through the post, to believe that the rogue is some other person, when that person in fact had no separate identity, contracts instead with the rogue. The contract is voidable, but until avoided it enables a good title to be passed to an innocent purchaser by the crook. ‘The question was, With whom, upon this evidence, which was all one way, did the plaintiffs contract to sell the goods? Clearly with the writer of the letters. If it could have been shown that there was a separate entity called Hallam and Co, and another entity called Wallis then the case might have come within the decision in Cundy v Lindsay . . .. In his opinion there was a contract by the plaintiffs with the person who wrote the leters by which the property passed to him. There was only one entity, trading it might under an alias, and there was a contract by which the property passed to him.


A L Smith LJ


(1879) 14 TLR 98


England and Wales


CitedCundy v Lindsay HL 1878
Cundy was asked to pay the linen manufacturers Lindsay and Co for 250 dozen cambric handkerchiefs which he had acquired from a crook who had acquired them from Lindsay by pretending to be the respectable business firm of Blenkiron.
Held: A . .

Cited by:

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 . .
CitedLewis 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 . .
CitedHector v Lyons 1988
The appellant contracted to buy a house but used his under-aged son’s name. He sought specific performance when the vendor failed to complete.
Held: Since he was neither the purchaser nor the purchaser’s agent, specific performance was . .
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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.188409