Commonwealth Trust v Akotey  AC 72 PC
The plaintiff-respondent, hereinafter plaintiff, was a grower of cocoa. The respondent-appellant, hereinafter the first respondent, was a limited liability company carrying out import and export business in Accra. The second respondent, Laing, used to buy cocoa on credit from the plaintiff and was a consignee for the plaintiff. In the present case, the plaintiff and the second respondent (Laing) had a difference in price, yet the plaintiff consigned cocoa to Laing. This difference in price meant that the sale of the cocoa had not been concluded between Laing and the plaintiff. Laing, however, transferred the cocoa to the first respondent who in good faith took delivery of the cocoa and made payments to him. The plaintiff brought an action against the first and second respondents for damages for the conversion of the bags of cocoa. At the trial court, judgement was delivered in favour of the plaintiff and the first respondent was required to make a second payment for the same cocoa.
The trial court found that because the sale of the coca had not been concluded between Laing and the plaintiff, Laing did not have ownership of the cocoa and could not thus transfer a good title to the first respondent.
Whether the cocoa about which the dispute has arisen had become the property of the second respondent, Laing, so as to place him in a position to transfer it with a good title to the first respondent.
Arguments of the First Respondent:
That although the property in the cocoa had not passed from the plaintiff to Laing, that the plaintiff had so acted as to estop him from setting up his title in answer to the claim of the appellants. The act of the plaintiff relied upon for this contention was that the plaintiff himself had delivered the goods to Laing and no fraud was involved.
Holding and Ratio Decidendi:
In their Lordships opinion, to permit goods to go into the full possession of another with all the insignia of possession thereof and of apparent title, and to leave it open to go behind that permission so given and accompanied, and upset a purchase of the goods made for full value and in good faith, would bring confusion into mercantile transactions and would be inconsistent with law and with the principles so frequently affirmed following Lickbarrow v Masan.