Stolen Property in the Conflict of Laws
To those schooled in the common law tradition it is a basic principle of the law of personal property, expressed in the maxim Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet, that a purchaser of goods acquires no better title to them than that of his vendor. Although there are a number of exceptions it has been widely accepted that in the clearest imaginable case where such goods are stolen from their original owner neither a purchaser from the thief nor any successor in title can resist an action for their recovery brought by the original owner or another party claiming through him.' The recent decision of Slade J., on a preliminary point of law, in Winkworth v Christie, Marzson & Woods Ltd, [I980] 1 All E.R. 1121, is a useful reminder that this principle is not universally accepted and in appropriate circumstances will not necessarily be applied by the English courts.