As per section 5 (4) of the Theft Act 1968 when a person receives property by mistake, he is under a duty or an obligation to return the property to the rightful owner. In the banking industry for example, tellers and clerks do make mistakes albeit rarely and do deposit money into wrong accounts. The owner of the account or the wrongful recipient is under a duty to return those funds.
R v Gilks (1972) the appellant placed a bet on a horse which had a similar name or a name very close to the winning horse. He presented the betting slip at the counter and was given his winnings, and the appellant knew the whole time that a mistake had been made. When the gaming outlet realized the mistake they tried to recover the winnings but the appellant refused to return it. He was charged and convicted and appealed on the grounds that he had a moral duty to return the winnings but he did not have a legal duty to do so.
The conviction was upheld. The appellant should have returned the winnings. To do otherwise would amount to or would be construed as theft.
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