Lawrence v Metropolitan Police Commissioner: HL 30 Jun 1971

The defendant, a taxi driver, had without objection on the part of an Italian student asked for a fare of andpound;6 for a journey for which the correct lawful fare was 10s 6d. The taxi driver was convicted of theft. On appeal the main contention was that the student had consented to pay the fare. But it was clear that the appellant had not told the student what the lawful fare was.
Held: Section 1(1) of the 1968 Act is not to be read as if it contained such words as ‘without having the consent of the owner’. A theft is complete upon proof of the statutory elements: (i) a dishonest (ii) appropriation (iii) of property belonging to another (iv) with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it. ‘That there was appropriation in this case is clear. Section 3(1) states that any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to an appropriation. Here there was clearly such an assumption. That an appropriation was dishonest may be proved in a number of ways. In this case it was not contended that the appellant had not acted dishonestly.’ Where consent is in issue, it is relevant, not to appropriation, but to dishonesty. Consent in the context of the law of theft means true consent with full knowledge of the relevant facts. belief that the passenger gave informed consent (i.e. knowing that he was paying in excess of the fare) ‘is relevant to the issue of dishonesty, not to the question whether or not there has been an appropriation.’ Sections 1(1) and 15(1) of the Act are not mutually exclusive. If the facts proved justify a conviction under section 15(1), there can lawfully be a conviction under section 1(1) on the same facts.

Viscount Dilhorne
[1972] AC 626, [1971] 3 WLR 225, [1971] 2 All ER 1253, [1971] UKHL 2
Theft Act 1968 1
England and Wales
Appeal fromRegina v Lawrence (Alan) CACD 1970
The offence created by section 1(1) of the 1968 Act involved four elements: ‘(i) a dishonest (ii) appropriation (iii) of property belonging to another (iv) with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of it.’ . .

Cited by:
ApprovedDirector 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 . .
ConsideredRegina v Morris (David) CACD 1983
Two defendants worked together to alter the labels on joints of meat in a supermarket, and to present the one with the now reduced price at the till. The appealed convictions for theft saying that since the purchase transferred the property in the . .
AppliedRegina v Morris (David); Anderton v Burnside HL 2-Jan-1983
The defendants had been accused of theft. One switched labels on a joint of pork in a supermarket, and the other presented the meat with the now cheaper label for purchase.
Held: The appeals were dismissed. There can be no conviction for theft . .
CitedRegina v Shuck CACD 1992
The defendant was a company officer. He gave instructions to an innocent third party which resulted in the dishonest diversion of substantial sums of the company’s money. He appealed the judge’s interpretation of the word ‘appropriation.’
CitedWheatley and Another v The Commissioner of Police of the British Virgin Islands PC 4-May-2006
(The British Virgin Islands) The defendants appealed against convictions for theft and misconduct. Being civil servants they had entered in to contract with companies in which they had interests. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.189995