Dennant v Skinner and Collom


[1948] 2 K.B. 164


King's Bench Division


King bought a car for £345 at an auction held by Dennant. After the auction Dennant was induced by certain misrepresentations made to him by King to deliver the car to him in exchange for a cheque for £1190 which represented the price of the car in question together with the price of five other vehicles which had also been knocked down to King by the plaintiff at that sale.


Before allowing King to take delivery of the vehicles the plaintiff obtained his signature to a certificate in the following terms:


"I certify that my cheque No. 11B 287164 value £1190 will be met on presentation to my Bank and furthermore I agree that the ownership of the vehicles will not pass to me until such time as the proceeds of my cheque have been credited to South London Motor Auctions' account at Lloyds Bank, Ld."


The cheque was dishonoured on presentation and King was later convicted of obtaining the six motor vehicles from the plaintiff by false pretences with intent to defraud. Subsequently Dennant discovered that the Standard motor car was in the possession of the defendant, Skinner, and Dennant demanded delivery up to him of the car. Skinner having refused, this action was started for the return of the car or its value.


Skinner, upon whose good faith in the matter there was no reflection, had in fact bought the car from one Collom, and upon that purchase there was admittedly an implied warranty of good title by virtue of the Sale of Goods Act, 1893. The defendant accordingly brought in Collom as a third party.


Hallett J


'I come now to consider the second point on which the plaintiff relies, which I understand is this; that the property in the circumstances of this case did not pass until the price was paid by the cheque being in order or cash substituted for it. The circumstances in regard to that I have already stated, and it remains only to consider the law. In the first place, as I have said, I think that a contract of sale is concluded at an auction sale on the fall of the hammer. The Sale of Goods Act, 1893, s. 18, r. 1, provides: "Where there is an unconditional contract for the sale of specific goods, in a deliverable state, the property in the goods passes to the buyer when the contract is made, and it is immaterial whether the time of payment or the time of delivery, or both, be postponed." Accordingly, upon the fall of the hammer the property of this car passed to King unless that prima facie rule is excluded from applying because of a different intention appearing or because there was some condition in the contract which prevented the rule from applying. In my view, this was clearly an unconditional contract of sale, and I can see nothing whatever to make a different intention appear. The only evidence upon which it was ever suggested to exist was the printed conditions, but I can see nothing in those conditions to negative an intention that the property should pass on the fall of the hammer. I think the conditions are entirely consistent with such an intention.'