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Winkworth V. Christie Manson Notes

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This is an extract of our Winkworth V. Christie Manson document, which we sell as part of our Conflict of Laws BCL Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.

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WINKWORTH V. CHRISTIE MANSON FACTS The goods with which the action and counterclaim are concerned ("the goods"), were stolen in England from the lawful possession of the plaintiff who was the owner of them at the time of the theft and was domiciled in England and Wales. They were subsequently taken to Italy and sold and delivered by a third party to the second defendant under a contract made in Italy, and as to the contractual rights of the parties governed by Italian law, the goods also being at the time of such sale and delivery, physically situated in Italy. The goods were thereafter delivered by the second defendant to Christie's in England for the sale there by auction by Christie's on his behalf. Some of the goods were sold in England by Christie's on his behalf, but before the proceeds of sale were paid over by them to the second defendant or the balance of the goods were sold, the plaintiff asked for and received undertakings from Christie's not to part with the proceeds of sale and not to part with the possession of the balance of the goods then remaining unsold pending determination of the issues between the plaintiff and the second defendant. In the action the plaintiff seeks a declaration that certain works of art have at all material times been his property. He seeks an injunction restraining Christie's from, inter alia, paying to the second defendant any part of the proceeds of sale of these works of art or disposing of any of them at present in their possession. QUESTION Whether upon the basis of the agreed facts set forth in the schedule to this order English domestic law or Italian domestic law is to be applied to the issue whether the plaintiff or the
[second] defendant ... has title to the goods with which this action and the said counterclaim are concerned and to the proceeds of sale of those goods...
In the circumstances, a crucial issue in the present case must be: was the effect of the sale in Italy to confer on the second defendant a title to ownership of the goods which is valid even against the plaintiff? and the question of law now before the court resolves itself to the question whether this issue falls to be determined in accordance with English domestic law or Italian domestic law. HOLDING It is common ground that at the time of the theft the plaintiff was the owner of the goods, and that they were in his lawful possession. It is also common ground that he neither knew of nor consented to

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