Q&As

Can the tort of conversion apply where one individual took money from another individual's bank account?

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Published on LexisPSL on 11/02/2020

The following Dispute Resolution Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can the tort of conversion apply where one individual took money from another individual's bank account?
  • The tort of conversion
  • The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977

Can the tort of conversion apply where one individual took money from another individual's bank account?

The tort of conversion

The tort of conversion is concerned with cases where one person (D) has misappropriated goods belonging to another (C).

It requires the existence of three elements:

  1. D’s conduct must have been inconsistent with the rights of the owner, C (or other person entitled to possession)

  2. D’s conduct must have been deliberate, not accidental; and

  3. D’s conduct must have been so extensive an encroachment on C’s rights as to exclude C from use and possession of the goods

See Commentary: Conversion: general features of the tort: Halsbury's Laws of England [202].

In order to sue in conversion, the claimant must establish that they hold a property right in respect of a chattel (OBG Ltd v Allan).

There is no closed list of the different types of chattels which can form the subject matter of a property right, and hence be protected through the chattel torts. In addition, there are special rules relating to money.

See Commentary: What in law is a chattel: Halsbury's Laws of England [225].

Money, in the sense of physical coins and banknotes, can form the subject matter of a property right and is therefore protected by the tort of conversion in much the same way as any other chattel (Moffatt v Kazana

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