Bishop v Bryant & others [1834] 6 C&P 484

Facts:

The plaintiff Bishop was a pipe maker and a tenant of Mr Bryant.

In April 1833 Bryant was owed one quarter's rent, totalling £10, and instructed bailiff, Mr Chuck to levy distress.

Chuck and his two sons distrained goods at the premises on April 19 and left a man named Chassey in possession. Six days later all three called again and Bishop was asked by Chuck senior to pay his expenses. He did this and the Chucks then went away, taking the possession man Chassey with them.

The next day the Chucks returned accompanied by two others and began to remove goods and while doing so broke many of Bishop's pipes.

After the distress and delivery of the inventory the bailiff discovered further goods including more pipes, a sofa bedstead, an electrifying machine and a model of a ship and removed them.

Bishop complained the goods were not properly appraised before removal as required under the Distress for Rent Act 1689 and that he had been unable to obtain a copy of any valuation of the goods since.

 

Judgment of Tindal CJ:

"If these goods which were taken from the cupboard were not included in the original distress, an action of trover will lie for them. It is not pretended they were included in the inventory, because it was not known at the time that they were there... It seems to me that the landlord constitutes the bailiffs his agents when he sends them in to make this distress; and if they wrongfully or negligently take away anything they ought not, he is liable for their acts...

Now addressing the jury...

It appears to me that there are three points which must he submitted to your consideration; first, whether the defendants were guilty of selling the goods without having previously appraised them by two sworn brokers, as required by the statute?

Secondly, whether any damage was done to the goods by want of proper care in the removal of them?

And, thirdly, what damage has been occasioned by the sale of those articles which were not in the inventory?

According as you find the counts relating to these matters sustained or not by the evidence, you will find your verdict for the plaintiff or the defendants. On the first point you must say what damage the owner of this property has sustained by reason of its not having been appraised. There is no evidence of the time at which the sale took place; and if the appraisement was made before the taking for the purposes of sale, all would have been done that was necessary as far as the time was concerned. Then you will consider whether the necessity of the appraisement was dispensed with by the plaintiff; for, if you are satisfied that it was, then he cannot bring an action for the neglect of that which he has himself dispensed with. I recommend you, if you find for the plaintiff on any of the three grounds I have mentioned, to find the damages separately on each, as it may prevent the parties from coming here again."

The jury found for the plaintiff Mr. Bishop damages on the first ground, £85; on the second, £10; and on the third, £5.

 

Result:

Removing goods not initially distrained is wrongful

The bailiff is liable for goods damaged after being distrained

Debtors can claim for damages for selling goods not on the original Form 7 inventory or Form 8 walking-possession agreement (Now a Regulation 15 Controlled Goods Agreement).