The Six Carpenters Case [1572] EngR 452

Trespass – Stolen goods


Six carpenters (S) were served with wine and bread at a tavern which they paid for. S requested more wine and bread afterwards, of which they were served, by this time they refused to pay. John Vaux (J) brought an action of trespass against Thomas Newman and the five other carpenters.


The issue in question in the present case was whether the non-payment by S made the entry into the tavern tortious and therefore trespass.


There was no trespass. When an entry, authority, or licence, is given to any one by the law, and he abuses it, he shall be a trespasser ab initio, however it will not be trespass where the entry or authority is given by the party and abused. Chic Fashions (West Wales) v. Jones [1968] 2 QB 299 doubts the ratio in the instant case that if a man abuses an authority given by law, he becomes a trespasser ab initio, due to the effect this would have on the ability of constables to execute search warrants. Chic Fashions claims that the law has been gradually altered since the instant case to give greater protection to constables. In that case it was held that a constable who enters private property by virtue of a search warrant is entitled to seize not only goods reasonably believed to be covered by the warrant but also any other goods which he honestly and reasonably believes to have been stolen.