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Title: Do Freegans Commit Theft?
Authors: Thomas, Sean
First Published: 6-Jan-2010
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (on behalf of the Society of Legal Scholars)
Citation: Legal Studies, 2010, 30 (1), pp. 98-125.
Abstract: The environmental impact of mass consumerism is a growing concern, with a particular consequence being the production of significant levels of waste goods. Goods are often disposed of whilst still being useable. One proposed method of reducing the environmental impact of the levels of waste of useable goods is freeganism. This paper provides an overview of freeganism, followed by an evaluation of the impact of English criminal law on freeganism. This paper will consider the claim that freegans commit theft. First there is analysis of the possibility that freegans cannot be guilty of theft because they only deal with abandoned property. Although there is considerable strength in this claim, the difficulties with establishing that property is abandoned necessitates the development of an alternative defence. It will be suggested that freeganism is not an activity that is dishonest in a way so as to attract criminal sanction. This argument is based on the structure of the criminal law relating to theft, which has defences based on claims of right, subjective honesty and the considerations of ordinary people (ie jury members). It is concluded that freegans should not be guilty of theft under the current English criminal law.
DOI Link: 10.1111/j.1748-121X.2009.00142.x
ISSN: 0261-3875
eISSN: 1748-121X
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: © 2010 The Author. Journal Compilation © 2010 The Society of Legal Scholars.
Description: The definitive version is available at
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Law

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