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Wilson v Lombank [1963] 1 WLR 1294

Torts - Trespass - possession of vehicle - effect of lien over goods

Facts:

Wilson bought a car off Lombank. The representative of Lombank had no right to sell the vehicle. Wilson took the vehicle to the garage for repairs, where he had a line of credit with the garage, having used them in the past. The car was mistakenly taken by another Lombank representative, thinking it was one of theirs. Lombank later returned it to Wilson after realising their mistake. Wilson sued for damages for trespass of the car.

Issue:

Whether Wilson’s line of credit to the garage affected his possession over the vehicle and whether he was entitled to damages for trespass.

Held:

Upon consideration of the past dealings between the garage and Wilson, there was found to be an implied term between Wilson and the garage but no lien. Wilson had possession of the car, never lost possession of the car at any stage and had rights to immediate possession. As Wilson could have demanded to have access to the car at any time, he had possession of the vehicle as and when he chose. It was also relevant that the garage had waived any responsibility when the representative collected the vehicle, which went towards demonstrating that the line of credit did not affect ownership. As a result of the vehicle having been mistakenly taken, Wilson was entitled to damages for the total sum of the repairs and the value of the vehicle. Lombank’s mistaken occupancy of the vehicle amounted to trespass of Wilson’s property.


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