R v Hall [1973] 1 QB 496

Theft contrary to section 1(1) Theft Act 1968, travel agent, contractual obligations distinguished.


The defendant travel agent received deposit monies from various clients to pay for flights to the United States. He paid the monies into the firm’s general account but his business failed and the clients’ deposit monies were lost. He had never booked the airline tickets and was unable to pay the clients their monies. He was convicted of theft and appealed on the basis that the monies did not belong to another for the purposes of the Theft Act 1968.


To be convicted of theft, the property appropriated by the defendant must belong to another person at the time when he appropriates it section 1(1) Theft Act 1968. If a defendant receives monies from another party who places him under an obligation to handle the monies in a specific manner, then the monies shall be considered as belonging to the party who transferred the monies to the defendant under section 5(3) Theft Act 1968. To be placed under such an obligation within this section, there must be an arrangement between the parties that the monies should be used in a particular way, such as placing the monies into a separate account, which would give rise to an obligation.


The defendant travel agent’s conviction for theft was quashed because although he had breached his contractual obligations to his clients and could be sued in respect of this breach, there had been no agreement that he should deal with the monies in a specific manner, and he was, therefore, under no obligation within section 5(3) Theft Act 1968.