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   Home      R v Morris, Anderton v Burnside

R v Morris, Anderton v Burnside [1983] 3 WLR 697 House of Lords

Conjoined appeals both involving the switching of price labels in supermarkets. Morris was arrested after paying a lower sum for certain items, Burnside was arrested before paying for the goods. The question for the Lords to decide was whether an appropriation required the assumption of all rights of an owner and also if there was an appropriation at what point in time did this occur.


There need not be an appropriation of all the rights of an owner. The appropriation took place when there was an adverse interference with or usurpation of the rights of an owner which was at the point of switching the label, not at the point of taking the goods from the shelf.

Lord Roskill:

"If one postulates an honest customer taking goods from a shelf to put in his or her trolley to take to the checkpoint there to pay the proper price, I am unable to see that any of these actions involves any assumption by the shopper of the rights of the supermarket...The concept of appropriation in my view involves not an act expressly or impliedly authorised by the owner but an act by way of adverse interference with or usurpation of those rights. "
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