Alfred Weiss successfully defends in case involving measure of damages where a chattel is converted

May 16, 2016

In Sami v Lone, a multi-track claim heard at the Leeds County Court on 9th May 2015, the Court was faced with the question of how to assess damages where a chattel had been unlawfully converted but there was no claim for loss of profits or other special damages arising out of the conversion.  The owner of the chattel, in this case a chapatti oven and press, claimed damages in excess of £700,000 calculated on the basis of the notional cost of £200 per day for hiring such an oven and press, to represent his loss for the period during which he had been unlawfully deprived of his chattel.

Both parties’ Counsel made legal argument centred on the case of The Mediana [1900] AC 113.  The Mediana is cited as an authority in leading text books for the principle that hire charges may be recoverable as general damages even when the chattel is not one that is hired out and there is no loss of profit.  The Court was persuaded by Counsel for the Defendant, Alfred Weiss of Exchange Chambers, that The Mediana is not authority for the principle that where the owner of a chattel claims damages to represent the fact he has been deprived of his chattel by unlawful conversion, he is entitled per se to damages akin to the cost of notional hire.  Rather, whilst the cost of hire may be a yardstick by which to measure the appropriate quantum of damages, the Court is nonetheless entitled to stand back and to determine what the appropriate quantum is in any given case.  On the facts of this case the trial judge awarded damages of approximately £3,400 by way of compensation for the unlawful conversion.

Alfred Weiss of Exchange Chambers, Counsel for the Defendant, was instructed by John Gibson of Aventus Law in Leeds.