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Return to Street on Torts 15e student resources

Chapter 11 Guidance on answering the end-of-chapter problem questions

Wrongful interference with goods

The most likely occasion on which Jenny might have committed a trespass to goods is when she took more cups of absinthe than she was (impliedly) allowed to drink. She ought not to have drunk the contents of cups 2 to 10. Store B had title, she directly interfered with the goods and did so intentionally. However, it is not so easy to say that she committed trespass to the scarves or the bottle of absinthe. This is because she would have had permission to pick these up and take them around the store: see Fouldes v Willoughby. Tearing the red scarf could have been a simple accident, rather than the result of negligence, because the ordinary customer would not be expected to foresee an exposed nail in the wall. As such, it was not a trespass: Manton v Brocklebank. Conversion is an intentional dealing with goods in a manner which is inconsistent with the rights of the true owner. Which of Jenny’s acts had that effect? Simply moving the scarves from the first to the third floor would not have that effect – indeed, there was an implied permission to do so. Indeed, even tearing the red scarf on an exposed nail is no necessary conversion – it is not an act that in itself constitutes a denial of the rights of Store A in the goods. Indeed, it was not voluntary: see Fouldes v Willoughby. However, when Jenny hides the scarves this is more likely to be inconsistent with Store A’s rights in them: Empresa Exportadora. Moreover, when Jenny puts the bottle of absinthe in her bag and neglects to pay for them – that is, she takes the bottle from Store B – that is inconsistent with Store B’s rights in the goods: ibid.