• In the case of Lawrence v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1972] AC 626, it was established that even where there is consent by the V to appropriation, theft can be found to exist.

Facts of Lawrence v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1972] AC 626

  • An Italian student went in a taxi from London Victoria Station to an address in Ladbroke Grove
  • D, taxi driver, claimed this was a long journey and the money she handed was insufficient
  • She, unable to speak English, handed her wallet to the D
  • D took money in excess of the fare, plus she had overpaid in the first place
  • D was convicted of theft under s1(1) of the Theft Act 1968
  • D appealed on the basis that the student had consented to him taking more

Issues in Lawrence v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1972] AC 626

  • Despite her consent, was the D rightly convicted of theft?

Held by the House of Lords

Appeal dismissed – the D was rightly charged and convicted under s1(1) of the Theft Act 1968.

Viscount Dilhorne

Looking to Parliament’s intention when creating the Act, Viscount Dilhorne stated [632]:

  • “I see no ground for concluding that the omission of the words “without the consent of the owner” was inadvertent and not deliberate, and to read the subsection as if they were included is, in my opinion, wholly unwarranted.”
  • The omission has “relieved the prosecution of the burden of establishing that the taking was without the owner’s consent”

Belief is important, as the presence or absence of such, and then consenting “to the appropriation is relevant to the issue of dishonesty, not to the question whether or not there has been an appropriation”. Thus, theft can occur even with permittance or consent to the taking of property. [632]