Do Freegans Commit Theft?
journal contributionposted on 2012-01-16, 15:11 authored by Sean Thomas
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.
CitationLegal Studies, 2010, 30 (1), pp. 98-125.
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF ARTS, HUMANITIES AND LAW/School of Law
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)