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Law Of Property (Title To Goods)

Volume 977: debated on Monday 28 January 1980

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asked the Attorney General if, in the light of the judgment of Mr. Justice Slade in Winkworth v. Christie Manson and Woods Ltd., and Another, to the effect that the title of goods of a resident in England and Wales may be lost if the goods are taken to a foreign jurisdiction without the owner's consent and transferred without his knowledge to another person in circumstances which are sufficient to confer valid title on the transferee, he will seek to amend the law of property so as to provide that, notwithstanding the domestic law of any such foreign jurisdiction, it shall not be possible to transfer title to goods in such circumstances without the express or implied consent of their owner.

No, Sir. I am satisfied that there is no practicable alternative to the long-established rule of English private international law which was applied in the case to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman be prepared to offer this complex problem for consideration by the review body on the export of works of art?

One of the difficulties that is so often found when dealing with cases of this sort is that of deciding between two innocent parties. It is axiomatic that in those circumstances both cannot win. This case was referred to the Law Commission for its views. Its reply was that there is no practicable alternative to the present rule.