AskDefine | Define detinue

Extensive Definition

In tort law, detinue is an action for the wrongful detention of goods. It is initiated by an individual who claims to have a greater right to their immediate possession than the current possessor. For an action in detinue to succeed, a claimant must first prove that he had better right to possession of the chattel than the defendant and second that the defendant refused to return the chattel once demanded by the claimant.
Detinue allows for a remedy of damages for the value of the chattel, but unlike most other interference torts, detinue also allows for the recovery of the specific chattel being withheld.


Historically, detinue came in two forms: "detinue sur bailment" and "detinue sur trover".
In detinue sur bailment, the defendant is in a bailment relationship with the claimant and either refuses to return the chattel or else has negligently or intentionally lost or destroyed it. The onus is on the bailee to prove that the loss of the chattel was not his or her fault.
In detinue sur trover, the defendant can be any individual in possession of the chattel who refuses to return it to the claimant. A defendant could be a finder or a thief or any innocent third party, and the claimant need only have a better right to possession.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, detinue was abolished from 1 January 1978 by the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977. However, the tort of conversion was extended at the same time to cover circumstances that had previously been covered only by detinue.


  • W.S. Holdsworth, A History of English Law 324-27.

See also

External links

detinue in Korean: 동산반환청구소송
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