Conversion of Intangible Property: A Modest, but Principled Extension? A Historical Perspective
This article examines whether an expansion to the tort of conversion to cover intangible property is warranted. In the 2007 case of OBG Ltd v Allan (OBG), the majority of the House of Lords held in favour of retaining the rule that only tangible property may be subject to an action in conversion, while the minority argued that expansion of the tort is necessary based on principle, the history of conversion and developments in other jurisdictions. The OBG decision is set in its historical context through an analysis of the origins and extensive history of the tort of conversion. The article concludes there is nothing in the history of the tort that stands in the way of expansion to cover cases of interference with intangible interests, and argues that such an extension would be a welcome development in the New Zealand context.
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