New concept introduced by the theft act and didnt figure in the old law of larceny which revolvedaround the notion of taking and carrying away property and was concerned very much with the idea of tangible property.In technical terms, the old law was a form of trespass and was an offence against someonesproperty.What the criminal law revision committee said the theft law should do is to make it aninterference against property rights more generally and particularly against rights of ownership. TheCLRC then hit on this notion of appropriation as the word they though would best describe this idea of dishonestly interfering with someone elses property.
S3(1) starts with the proposition; Any assumption by a person of the rights of an owner amounts to anappropriation, and this includes, where he has come by the property (innocently or not) without stealingit, any later assumption of a right to it by keeping or dealing with it as owner.
ANY ASSUMPTION OF
THE RIGHTS OF AN OWNER
Were looking at the idea of starting from the rights of the owner. So that leads to the question whatare the rights of the owner?English law recognises the concept of ownership of property in the form of a bundle of rights overcertain things. The owner can do a number of things with his or her property.e.g. you can use it, sell it, hire it out, damage your own property etc And importantly, if someone elsehas got it, you can take possession back and exclude other people from it.It then follows that if you do any of the things an owner is entitled to do in relation to his or herproperty, and its not your property, then you appropriate the property.A straightforward example would be:
Pitham and Hehl(1977) 65 Cr. App. R. 45
Here a person, M, offered to sell to the 2 defendants furniture belonging to X. X was in prison at the timeand didnt know about it. The defendants agreed to buy some of the furniture and they later took it away.The defendants were charged with handling stolen goods.There was no doubt that they handled the furniture as they took possession and took it away. The questionfor the CA was whether at the time they handled the furniture, it was in fact
stolen goods. That raised thequestion whether the theft was complete at the time they handled the furniture. (was the
stealingcomplete so the furniture acquired the status of goods that had been
stolen)CA said that when M offered to sell the furniture to the defendants, that in itself amounted to anappropriation. Remember, one of the things an owner can do with his property is to sell it and that includesmaking an offer to sell it. M had appropriated that right to sell the property. That right belonged to X and