A suspected thief had left a valuable ring with the claimant jewellers for valuation. They reported the matter to the police and handed the ring to them. The suspected thief never reappeared, and no-one claiming to be the true owner emerged. The police did not return the ring to the jewellers, who applied to the Magistrates Court under the 1897 Act. The magistrates declined to order the police to return the ring, on the ground that the jewellers were not the owners of it.
Held: The appeal failed. The procedure under the 1897 Act is suitable only for ‘straightforward, simple cases where there is no difficulty of law and the matter is clear’. He added: ‘I would discourage them from attempting to use the procedure of the Act of 1897 in cases which involve a real issue of law or any real difficulty in determining whether a particular person is or is not the owner’. Where there was a real issue of law or any real difficulty in determining whether a particular person was or was not the owner, a claim should be brought in the civil courts.
Lord Widgery CJ
 1 All ER 335,  QB 321
Cited – Morgan, Regina (on the Application of) v Justices of Dyfed Powys Magistrates’ Court Admn 18-Jun-2003
Money had been taken by the Police, but after the applicants had been acquitted, they sought it to be returned. Their action was struck out after long delays. They applied to the Magistrates who turned down the application.
Held: The money . .
Cited – Gough and Another v The Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police CA 2-Mar-2004
The claimants sought return of vehicle parts from the police. The police replied that the goods had been tampered with in such a way as to suggest they may have been stolen, and that they were therefore kept, even after the finish of the court . .
Cited – O’Leary International Ltd v North Wales Police Admn 31-May-2012
The company employed drivers to cross the UK. They were stopped and did not have the requisite drivers records. Instead they produced certificates as to having had rest days. These proved false, and the drivers said that the had been produced for . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 12 May 2022; Ref: scu.188402