A more recent version of these Actions To Enforce Title notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Personal Property Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Actions to Enforce Title There is not a single action of enforcement of title, instead actions in restitution and civil wrongs are used to achieve enforcement of title. In equity, a constructive trust can be used to enforce equitable title to money. At law, title is primarily protected through the torts of trespass and conversion. These are now contained in the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 s.1. Once a claim for damages is satisfied then the title is extinguished (TIGA 1977 s.5(1)) Legal title may also be enforced by either an unjust enrichment claim/money had and received, or by asserting property rights over a specific fund. One is able to enforce title by an action for money had and received , but if consideration has been provided then there can be a bona fide change of position and so the claim will fail (Lipkin Gorman) If legal title can be traced into a specific fund then that fund and profits from it may be declared to be the property of the victim (FC Jones v. Jones)
Trespass to goods Penfolds Wine (Australian Case) A mere taking of a chattel may be a trespass without requiring the infliction of any damage. The handling without authority is a trespass. The unauthorised use of goods is a trespass: riding a horse, driving a car or using a bottle are all acts of trespass even if the horse is returned unharmed, the car is unwrecked and the bottle is unbroken. Trespass requires and is sufficiently satisfied by an interference with actual possession. Trespass gives rise to an action without any special damage needing to be proven. However if there is no damage then any award will be merely nominal (Kirk v. Gregory) To remedy a trespass the court may order damages, either nominal or compensatory, or it can order specific return. The court can order specific recovery and consequential damages (TIGA 1977 s.3(2)(a)) The defendant may add a party who has a better title than the claimant and who may otherwise have a claim so as to avoid double liability (TIGA 1977 s.8(2)(c))
Conversion There are three basic features to bringing an action in conversion. The defendant's conduct was inconsistent with the rights of the owner; the conduct was deliberate, not accidental; the effect of the conduct was to exclude the owner from use or possession of the goods (Kuwait Airways) Lesser acts of interference will give rise to a claim in trespass (Kuwait Airways)
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