Equity V

Over time the judges began to develop a writ system i.e. they issued a written order compelling an individual to take specific action and only allowed individuals remedy under certain circumstances or certain instances.

The writ system however was too simplistic and there were no remedies that were available if the offence did not comply with what constitutes an offence as stipulated by a writ and therefore a plaintiff though he may have been genuinely aggrieved, may not be able to obtain a remedy because the offence was not committed in the manner that was stipulated or laid out in the writ.

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Equity IV

During the reign of Richard I or Richard the Lionhearted, in 1195, the office of “Knights of Peace” was created through a Royal Proclamation. King Richard spent most of his life in the crusades and was probably its most notable commander especially in the Third Crusade.

It would be to some degree or extent fair to say that most of King Richard’s decisions were based on the canons of the Christian Church.

The office of the “Knights of Peace” was created to assist the sheriffs, who were tasked by the king to keep the peace in their respective shires or counties on behalf of the king and these sheriffs had some judicial authority and were give the duty of not only enforcing the law but were also empowered to deal with minor crimes.

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Equity III

Initially the courts carried out the functions of all three limbs of government (the legislative, executive and the judiciary), (this is prior to the birth Montesquieu (1689 – 1755) and the doctrine of separation of powers).

The courts however adhered to and continue to adhere to the doctrine of Stare Decisis, a Roman legacy, and the doctrine simply states that cases with identical or similar facts are to be approached in an identical or similar manner (common law is founded on the doctrine of Stare Decisis).

Things remained that way until the reign of Henry I (1068 – 1135) after which the function of the courts were divided among three separate bodies.

The court of Exchequer dealt with the collection of revenues, the court of common pleas dealt with common disputes or disputes among individuals and the judges who belonged to the King’s Council or the assize judges continued to travel through the country.

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Equity II

Following the Norman conquest of England local laws (which later became known as common law), these were not laws that were created but rather preexisting laws that were incorporated, laws that existed during the Roman occupation of the British Isles, most of which were ecclesiastical based or founded on church law (canon law), historically English Law or English Common Law had the principles of the Christian Church as its cornerstone, were enforced by the King’s Council and that led to the emergence of the Royal Courts.

The Royal Courts began to take over the function of the local courts, or the preexisting adjudicating mechanism. It was a process that occurred over a period of time and a practice of sending judges around to hold assizes or sittings locally, to hear the cases and to ensure that all cases were decided in accordance with the law, was created.

Trials per se were adversarial and both parties were given the opportunity to prove their case or disprove the other and that transfer of authority from the hands of the local courts to that of the assize judges occurred over a period of two hundred years.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Equity I

English law as it is applied today starts with the conquest of England by William I – Duke of Normandy, a region in France, in 1066. William I was of Viking descent. He became Duke of Normandy in 1035, and after a bitter struggle to establish his authority which culminated is his success; he managed to establish his authority by 1060, he launched his campaign to secure the British Isles and was successful six years later (1066) and those that followed him from Normandy became known as the Normans.

The first inhabitants of the British Isles were the Anglo-Saxons who were a Germanic tribe that began migrating to the east and south of England from Denmark after the Romans began withdrawing from England in 5 AD. The first King of England was Egbert (802) (Anglo-Saxon)

Though the Norman-Anglo Saxon distinction has little or no significance in modern day England and most historians choose to discard it, England is far too complex for that, it is something that is worth knowing.

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Appropriation of goods that are given to charity may also be considered as theft depending on where the goods were taken from. In Ricketts v Basildon Magistrates (2011), the defendant took some bags filled with items that were given to Oxfam and the BHF (the British Heart Foundation) intending to sell them at a car sale. The defendant was charged under the Theft Act 1968 and he was committed by the magistrates to the crown court.

It was held that taking items given to charity may be considered as theft depending on where they were taken from. The items that were given to Oxfam were taken from Oxfam bins which is the property of Oxfam and therefore the taking of those items constituted theft. The items given to the BHF were placed on their doorstep and therefore did not constitute theft. It the instance of the latter it could be argued that the items were abandoned.

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Appropriation as far as section 3 (1) of the Theft Act 1968 is concerned requires direct physical action as opposed to remote triggering.

In R v Briggs (2004) the appellant convinced her uncle and aunty to move closer to her so that she could take better care of them. Her aunty and uncle accordingly sold the house and the appellant made an arrangement with the conveyancers to have the house purchased in her name and have the proceeds of the sale given to her aunty and uncle, contrary to their wishes. The aunty and uncle never intended for their niece to purchase their property. The defendant was charged and convicted of theft. The defendant appealed.

The appeal was allowed and the conviction for theft was substituted with a conviction for deception. Appropriation as far as section 3(1) of the Theft Act 1968 is concerned is more in line with a direct physical act as opposed to remote triggering, which was the case in this instance and therefore a conviction for deception would be more appropriate as opposed to a conviction for theft.

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With reference to section 6 (1) of the Theft Act (1968) the act of appropriating the property of another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of what is rightfully theirs will be regarded as theft.

In R v Lavender (1994) the defendant removed some doors from council flats that were due for demolition and fixed them on his girlfriend’s flat. The defendant was charged and convicted.

The defendant had the intention of permanently depriving another of what was rightfully theirs and therefore was guilty of theft.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

Crime CCXVII-Theft XXV

In DPP v Gomez (1993) the defendant colluded with two others who had stolen a couple of cheques to purchase goods in the shop that he worked in. The defendant persuaded the manager of the shop to accept the cheques as payment for the goods the other two had purchased.

The cheques were dishonored and the defendant was charged. The defendant argued that the manager had consented to accepting the cheques as payment. The defendant appealed under section 3 (2) of the Theft Act 1968 which reads as follows:-

“Where property or a right or interest in property is or purports to be transferred for value to a person acting in good faith, no later assumption by him of rights which he believed himself to be acquiring shall, by reason of any defect in the transferor’s title, amount to theft of the property”

The House of Lords upheld the conviction and decided that appropriation could occur even when there is consent especially when there is a clear intention to defraud the rightful or legal owner.

Furthermore as per section 3 (2) of the Theft Act 1968 for there to be a legal transfer of title both parties need to be acting in good faith and in this instance neither the defendant nor those he was colluding with were acting in good faith.

Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Jessica Ward