Q&As

If A took B’s car without A’s permission and crashed it, rendering it useless, would B have a claim against A in the tort of conversion?

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Published on LexisPSL on 24/02/2020

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

  • If A took B’s car without A’s permission and crashed it, rendering it useless, would B have a claim against A in the tort of conversion?
  • Tort of Conversion Claim—establishing a claim and remedies
  • Damages for conversion

B may be able to claim against A under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 (T(IG)A 1977).

T(IG)A 1977, s 1 defines ‘wrongful interference with goods’, among others, as:

  1. (a) conversion of goods

  2. (b) trespass to goods

Commentary: Trespass to goods compared with conversion: Halsbury’s Laws of England [685] sets out that the tort of conversion is concerned with the ‘most serious, or “exclusionary” interferences’, whereas trespass is ‘associated with minor interferences’. They are both strict liability torts, so there is no defence of lack of intent.

An example of trespass to goods might include, eg scratching the panel of the claimant's car, or deliberately touching a painting hanging in a gallery. The action may not amount to a conversion, as the person with legal title is not excluded, however, such interferences can amount to a trespass.

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