Davidson v Chief Constable of North Wales – Case Summary

Davidson v Chief Constable of North Wales

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1994] 2 All ER 597; [1994] CLY 4280.


The claimant entered a shop with his friend and bought a cassette. The pair stood around and chatted before leaving the store. The store detective thought that they had not paid, so he informed the police. The police arrested the pair and held them for two hours. The claimant sued the employer of the store detective for false imprisonment.

  1. Could the act of informing a third-party, foreseeing that they might detain the claimant, amount to false imprisonment?

The Court of Appeal held in favour of the defendants. The security guard had merely given the police information, which the police acted on using their own initiative. This was not an act of detention by the store detective.

This Case is Authority For…

Directing a third-party to detain a person will only give rise to liability in false imprisonment if the third-party acts as the defendant’s agent. This means that they must not use their own independent judgement or initiative.