Your Response Ltd v Datateam Business Media Ltd: CA 14 Mar 2014

The claimant employed the defendant to manage subscription lists for the claimant’s magazines. The claimant came to seek damages, and the defendant for non-payment of its invoices. The court was now asked whether it was possible to assert a common law possessory lien over the computer database now retained by the defendant.
Held: The publisher’s appeal was allowed. A common law lien was not available over a database. It was not property susceptible of possession which was capable of being subject to larceny or conversion or being taken in an execution, and the data manager was not entitled to exercise a common law lien on the database.
Moore-Bick said: ‘It may well be that a fuller understanding of the background to the contract would support the conclusion that the parties intended the publisher to have access to the database at will, but whether that is so or not, it must have been implicit in the contract that when it came to an end the data manager was under an obligation to send the publisher by electronic means a copy of the database in its latest form.’
Davis LJ said: ‘The law of unintended consequences is no part of the law of England and Wales. But it is worth paying attention to it, in an appropriate case, all the same. If a common law possessory lien can arise in a case such as the present, it would be a right in rem, not a right in personam. Probably, I would have thought, it would not be registrable as a charge. At all events, the right to such a possessory lien, if it exists, could have an impact on other creditors of the company (or individual) concerned and could confer rights in an insolvency which other creditors would not have. ‘
Moore-Bick, Davis, Floyd LJJ
[2014] EWCA Civ 281, [2014] CP Rep 31, [2015] 1 QB 41, [2014] 4 All ER 928, [2014] WLR(D) 131, [2014] 2 All ER (Comm) 899, [2014] 3 WLR 887
Bailii, WLRD
England and Wales
CitedChase And Others, Assignees of William And Thomas Hurst (Bankrupts), v James And David Westmore 21-May-1816
A workman having bestowed his labour upon a chattel in consideration of a price fixed in amount by his agreement with the owner, may detain the chattel until the price be paid; and this, though the chattel be delivered to the workman in different . .
CitedColonial Bank v Whinney CA 1885
The court was asked to decide whether shares in a joint stock company were to be classified as choses in action for the purposes of the proviso to section 44(iii) of the 1883 Act by which property in the order or disposition of the bankrupt in his . .
CitedColonial Bank v Whinney HL 1886
The parties disputed whether shares in a joint stock company were choses in action for the purposes of the 1883 Act so as to make them available to creditors on a bankruptcy.
Held: The appeal succeeded.
Blackburn L noted that there had . .
CitedTorkington v Magee 11-Jul-1902
Chose in Action defined
The effect of the 1873 Act was essentially procedural and it did not render choses in action that had not previously been assignable in equity capable of assignment.
Channell J defined a debt or other legal chose in action: ”Chose in Action’ . .
CitedTappenden v Artus CA 1964
The owner of a van allowed a customer to use it pending completion of a hire-purchase agreement. The van broke down and was delivered to the defendant for repairs. The price of the repairs remained outstanding and a question arose whether the garage . .
CitedDouglas and others v Hello! Ltd and others; similar HL 2-May-2007
In Douglas, the claimants said that the defendants had interfered with their contract to provide exclusive photographs of their wedding to a competing magazine, by arranging for a third party to infiltrate and take and sell unauthorised photographs. . .
CitedDerby and Co Ltd And Others v Weldon And Others (No 9) ChD 25-Jul-1990
The court considered the application of rules relating to the discovery of documents to material held on computer: ‘the database of a computer, so far as it contained information capable of being retrieved and converted into readable form, and . .
CitedJudson v Etheridge 1833
A contract for the feeding and stabling of a horse does not allow a lien for unpaid fees because it does not improve the horse. . .
CitedScarfe v Morgan 1838
A keeper of livery stables does not have a right to exercise a lien for his charges because he is obliged to give possession of the horse to the bailor whenever requested.
Parke B. expressed the view that particular liens ‘being consistent . .
CitedForth v Simpson 23-May-1849
A racehorse trainer cannot exercise a lien over a racehorse for his fees if the contract reserves to the owner (expressly or by implication) the right to decide the places at which and the jockeys by whom it is to be raced. . .
CitedHatton v Car Maintenance Co Ltd 1915
In order to exercise a lien over a car taken in for repair, the fact that labour had been expended in maintaining the article was not enough to give rise to a lien for charges. What was required was improvement in the condition of the article.
CitedIn re Southern Livestock Producers Ltd 1964
In the absence of special agreement the agister has no lien upon the livestock as he merely takes care of them and supplies them with food. Pennycuick J referred to the distinction between improvement and repair. An obligation to take care of pigs . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 27 March 2021; Ref: scu.522452