Owners of goods are entitled to enjoy their possession and control and their use without any interference. To protect goods the common law developed 3 torts namely;
• Trespass to goods
This is the unlawful detention of goods. It is the oldest tort relating to the protection of the chattels and protects possession of goods the owner. The plaintiff must prove:-
i. Right to immediate possession
ii. That the defendant detained the goods after the plaintiff demanded their return. The plaintiff is entitled to damages for the detention.
TRESPASS TO GOODS
This is the intentional or negligent interference of goods in possession of the plaintiff. This tort protects a party interest in goods with regard to retention their physical condition and invariability.
Types/forms of trespass
1. Taking a chattel out of the possession of another
2. Moving a chattel
3. Contact with a chattel
4. Directing a missile to a chattel
Rules/requirements of the tort
1. The trespass must be direct
2. The plaintiff must be in possession of the chattel at the time of interference
3. The tort is actionable per se
4. The principal remedy is a monetary award in damages
The defenses available to this tort include:-
1. Plaintiff’s consent
This is the intentional dealing with goods which is seriously inconsistent to possession or right to possession of another person. This tort protects a person’s interest in dominion or control of goods.
The plaintiff must have possession or the right to immediate possession. However, a bailee of goods can sue 3rd parties in conversion so cans a licensee or a holder of a lien or a finder. Any good or chattel can be the subject matter of conversion. There must be physical contact resulting in interference with the goods.
Acts of conversion
i. Taking goods or disposing; it has been observed that to take a chattel out another’s possession is to convert it or seize goods under a legal process without justification is conversion.
ii. Destroy or altering
iii. Using a person’s goods without consent is to convert them
iv. Receiving: the voluntary receipt of another’s goods without consent is conversion.