My client is both directors and the company itself.
The car was stored by Newlyn and put up for sale on eBay, where it came to the attention of the company. Two of its directors attended and recovered the car.
The police were called and charged both directors with theft of a motor vehicle, and fraud by false representation. The latter was dropped because no false representation was involved.
The car was held by the company at a secure location and could not be used by the company because police said the car is "stolen" and will be stopped if it was found.
Today at Luton Crown Court, before a jury of 12 guided by the judge. The charge theft was unsuccessful because the car was the property of the company accused of stealing it. My clients were awarded costs.
The client has instructed me to assign a solicitor to bring litigation proceedings against the council whom Newlyn acted for. They claim for the rental car from June 2013 until the date the police accept the car is not stolen. They also claim depreciation on the car because it is the property of a company.
Going by Newlyns charge of £48 a day to store a car as it had charged another of my clients, the bill is about £52,000. This will be a test of the actual cost of storing a car in a compound, as it appears Newlyn are using storage fees to make a profit or to receive a commission.
The noteworthy points are:
1. The judge intended to find the client guilty because he believed the car was lawfully taken in execution of a warrant, when it was not.
2. The judge was minded to disregard the fact a bailiff is unable to take goods not belonging to the debtor.
3. The judge intended to make a finding that a car unlawfully seized in execution, can lawfully pass title to a buyer if that buyer purchases it in good faith. The judge retracted this when it was pointed out to him that his finding would be used by anyone in their defence, that any person can indiscriminately steal property contrary to the Theft Act, and sell them on eBay and title would lawfully pass to the buyer.
4. When realising his opinion would result in an expensive appeal on technical grounds, he finally conceeded the car was the goods of the owner.
5. Newlyn placed a lot of resource in to the prosecutions side. There were no fewer than 9 witnesses for the prosecution including staff from Newlyn iself whom my client had never had contact with.
The large effort in the prosecution may have been a pre-emptive strike on the part of Newlyn to:
- a) avoid an expensive civil claim and;
b) stop a precedent being created that enables debtors to recover unlawfully executed goods from any person subsequently buying them in good faith.