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Car And Universal Finance Co. V. Caldwell Notes

BCL Law Notes > Restitution of Unjust Enrichment BCL Notes

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FACTS The defendant, John David Balfour Caldwell, was the owner of a Jaguar motor car. On Sunday, January 10, he was visited by two men calling themselves Norris and Foster. They wished, they said, to buy the Jaguar car for PS975, and paid PS10 in cash as a deposit. He was induced by Norris to let them take is away, leaving with Caldwell a Hillman car of much less value as security, and also a cheque for PS965 drawn on the Midland Bank. The next morning, January 13, when the bank at Brighton opened at 10 a.m. Caldwell was there to present the cheque. The cheque was not met and the manager told him that it could not be met from that account. Caldwell took a taxi at once and went to the police. The police produced a photograph of a wanted man who was the same man, Norris, who had induced Caldwell to part with his car. The police immediately put out a wireless call to all their police patrols, to try to find the car. They told Caldwell that there was a warrant out for the arrest of Norris in the name of Rowley, and that they had been watching his house for several days and had not found him. Sometime on January 13, Norris sold and delivered the Jaguar car to Motobella Co. Ltd. who, it was further agreed, had notice of the defect in title. The previous week Motobella had had a similar transaction with Norris, and if they did not know the details of the actual fraud they had notice from which they could infer that he had not come by it honestly. On January 15, Motobella sold the car for PS950 to G. & C. Finance Corporation Ltd. (hereinafter called "G.
& C. Finance") who purported to hire it to one "Alfred Harry Knowles," who appeared to have been a fictitious hirer. Meanwhile, on January 20, 1960, the car had been found at Bosham, being driven by one Brian Charles Allen, a director of Motobella, who claimed that his company had bought it and that it was their property. On January 29, 1960, Caldwell's solicitors demanded of Motobella's solicitors the return of the car, but they claimed to have goodwill. HOLDING LORD DENNING (QBD) Argument: An election, he indicated, was not complete until he had communicated it to the other side in such a way as to lead the opposite party to believe that he had made that choice. Then he had completed his election and could go no further.

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