As a general rule, the Common Law has no proprietary remedies.[1] Consequently, if the claimant has retained legal title in property which has been received by the defendant, the claimant can only claim the value of this property rather than the property itself.[2] The only true exception to this relates to land, where the claimant is able to recover land from the defendant.[3] There is also the remedy of delivery up of goods under section 3(3) of the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977, which is a proprietary remedy which is available where the defendant has committed a tort involving interference with the claimant’s property rights, such as conversion. But this remedy is discretionary and is only available where compensatory damages are an inadequate remedy.[4]

There are certain other exceptional circumstances where one party may be able to recover specific property from another party in legal proceedings. For example, in Greenwood v Bennett[5] it was recognized that the court could order that a car should be transferred to the original owner in interpleader proceedings, where the possessor of the car was requesting the court to determine who had the better claim to it.

  • [1] OBG Ltd v Allan [2007] UKHL 21, [2008] AC 1, [308] (Baroness Hale).
  • [2] Trustee of the Property ofFC Jones and Sons (a firm) v Jones [1997] Ch 159, 168 (Millett LJ).
  • [3] In an action for ejectment.
  • [4] See also the Minors’ Contracts Act 1987, s 3. See p 579, above.
  • [5] [1973] QB 195. See p 82, above.
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