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Flashcards in Theft Deck (26):

What is the actus reus of theft?

Appropriation (conduct) of something belonging to another which is capable of being stolen (circumstance).


Oxford v Moss

Mere information is not property.


Low v Blease

Forms of energy, including electricity, are not property but gas and water in a container is.


Can body parts and bodily fluids be owned?

Kelly - a corpse or its body parts may constitute property, usually where it has undergone a lawful application of skill

Yearworth - men own the sperm which they ejaculate



A thing may be stolen even if ownership or possession of it is illegal



If D has a better interest than V, D cannot steal it from V; S.5(1) requires a proprietary interest which the actor is not privileged to infringe



An owner may commit theft if he deprives someone who has a lien over the property, such as a seller in possession.


When is a good abandoned? Can abandoned goods be stolen?

Abandonment occurs where the owner gives up physical control and ceases to have intention to possess the item/exclude others from its possession. Williams v Phillips illustrates that courts are reluctant to find that goods have been abandoned since even trash put out for collection is not abandoned.

Abandoned goods cannot be stolen since they are ownerless.


Wain (illustrates which provision?)

If a charity collector keeps the proceeds of his fundraising for himself, he is guilty of theft. Illustrates S.5(3) - if D receives property on account of another and there is a legal obligation to return the property/proceeds to the other, the property will be regarded as belonging to the other


A-G Ref No.1 of 1983 (illustrates which provision? Contrast)

If an employee is overpaid, and dishonestly decides not to repay the sum, she will be guilty of theft under S.5(4) since she has a legal obligation to repay. The property is regarded as belonging to the employer to the extent of the legal obligation to repay.

Contrast Gilks, where since the overpayment was by virtue of a wager the obligation to return was only moral, nor legal.


How do Simester and Sullivan define appropriation based on the current law?

Any act in connection with an item that an owner may exclude others from doing is appropriation



An interference with the owner’s rights which is authorized by the owner is still appropriation


Hinks (how did this extend Gomez?)

The very acquisition of indefeasible ownership constitutes appropriation. Extended Gomez because in that case the transfer of title was voided by D's deception and D's title was impeachable.


Brooms v Crowther

If D lawfully obtains property, his omission to return it only counts as appropriation if he manifests a decision to treat the property as his own (S.3(1)) and he has a duty to return


Atakpu and Abrahams

Theft is a “finite act with a beginning and an end”, such that there “cannot be successive thefts of the same property by the same D”


Wheeler (contrast)

By S.3(2), if D buys property in good faith he cannot appropriate the property even if he later develops the mens rea for theft while handling the property in some way. This does not apply where D suspects the goods are stolen (e.g. in Broom v Crowther).



Dishonest borrowing is NOT theft UNLESS the intention is to return the thing in such a changed state that all its goodness or virtue is gone



By S.1(2) S commits theft if he appropriates the goods with intent to destroy; D NEED NOT intend to gain



Since the intent to deprive is an ulterior intent, D need not intend to deprive V by that very act of appropriation - it is sufficient he intends to deprive V by some further act.



As long as D intends to deprive V permanently of the physical property which he does take he is guilty of theft (even if he intended to pay for it)



If D has a conditional intent to permanently deprive V of the property which he is charged with stealing it is sufficient for theft


What does the phrase "dispose of" in S.6(1) mean?

It may be construed widely in the sense of intending V to lose her property permanently (Mitchell - getaway BMW) or narrowly in the sense of dealing with the property in any way (Marshall - Tube tickets).


Chan Man Sin

The intent to make an apparent or pretended disposal is sufficient for S.6(1)


What are the requirements for D's belief to satisfy the color of right defence in S.2(1)(a)?

It is immaterial that D’s belief in his right to deprive is unreasonable (Holden) or based on ignorance or mistake (Skivington) but the belief must be in a legal right and not merely a moral justification (Hennerly)



Dishonesty is a question of fact, with this 2-part test -
1. Was D’s conduct dishonest according to the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people?
2. Did D realise that reasonable and honest people would regard what he did as dishonest?



A right to draw on a credit balance and a right to draw on an agreed overdraft facility which is yet to be fully drawn down are both choses in action capable of being stolen. However beyond the authorized overdraft limit there is no longer a right to draw and theft can no longer be committed.