Duke of Somerset v Cookson (1735) 3 P Wms 390

Key Point

  • The equitable remedy of specific delivery where award of damages would be inadequate
  • This is particularly the case with unique goods such as in this case, an antique altarpiece


  • The Duke of Somerset was entitled to an altarpiece as treasure trove, but it was sold to D goldsmith by another
  • C claimed specific delivery in equity
  • D argued that C had his remedy at law by trover or detinue

Held (High Court of Chancery)

  • Specifc delivery was granted

Talbot LC

  • This thing is a ‘matter of curiosity and antiquity’, it would be wrong to allow the wrongdoer to keep it


  • The courts may now order for delivery of the goods or to give the defendant the choice of whether to delivery the goods or pay for damages under Torts (Interference with Goods Act) 1977, s 3