The remedy in conversion: confusing property and tort

Nick Curwen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Where a defendant wrongfully detains the claimant's goods the standard remedy in conversion permits the defendant to pay the value of the goods to the claimant instead of returning the goods. This amounts to legally sanctioned compulsory purchase. It will be argued that such a remedy is both muddled and unfair It is muddled because it confuses a proprietary claim with a claim in tort. The action exists in a state of arrested development, never having advanced in step with the action of ejectment, which long ago ensured that wrongfully detained land could be recovered. It is unfair because it sanctions the purchase of the claimant's goods against their will without any overriding public interest justification. The remedy in conversion needs to be unravelled to produce two distinct actions. One would be a true proprietary action that guarantees the recovery of wrongfully detained goods; the other would be a claim in tort providing personal remedies for wrongful interferences with title to goods. This can be achieved by reviving detinue but confining its ambit to the recover, of goods, leaving conversion to act as a tort.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)570-583
    Number of pages14
    JournalLegal Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006


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