Not sure I understand this ruling.
Are we saying that you can't sell second-hand electronics at all? Surely not.
Are we saying that you can't take rubbish from a bin and put it to better purpose? That has huge implications.
And if the guy had set up as a waste management company who collected the parts, took out the value, then paid another waste management company to come in and take the rest to dispose of officially with WEEE licenses and stuff (while obviously charging the same or slightly more than they were), that's absolutely fine?
It's not like he took anything from the company itself. He hasn't "permanently deprived" them of anything they were interested in keeping (though I understand that implicit assumptions cannot form explicit permission to do so). Even if the physical acts were technically different, he was basically taking rubbish out of a bin. So now all those guys who I see take rubbish from householders bins in the hopes of selling bits of it on as scrap, or for their own use (e.g. taking an old TV from the street next to the bin), or from people's skips are breaking the law? If he'd waited until the kit was abandoned in a skip to be taken away and then come back later in an unofficial capacity to take it, is that still a problem? What if someone takes the waste paper or cardboard boxes out of the workplace bin to give to their kids to play with? Is that really technically illegal or any different?
Sure, there's legal ownership there somewhere still but is it really that detrimental to either party? If his employers had promised X amount of usable scrap to the waste companies, then yes I see the problem - he's made them breach their contract with them. But if it's just junk that's going into the bin, surely the "value" of the goods is zero. Hell, with IT stuff you have to PAY people to take it away for you, generally, so it actually has negative value.
And why couldn't he have got permission? The council obviously disposed of it, no matter what value was in it, and provided no guarantees as to its usability. They've met their taxation obligations ("beyond economical repair" for the company to justify disposing of it does not mean that the kit couldn't have value for someone else - if it did, nobody would be able to throw anything away). Why can't you just say "It's in the bin, I consider it rubbish and I will concede all rights to it being my property"? Why do they have to endorse its future use or certification before someone can take it "as is", when I can sell my crap on eBay and not have anyone question it?
I don't get it at all. Sure, there may be technicalities and difficulties related to this particular instance but, in general, once something has been disposed of intentionally, why can't someone else pick it up and use it rather than let it go into landfill? What about all those art installations? What rights do I get to things I put in public bins? Can I complain that the council gets a kickback from recycling rubbish that I *obviously* intended to dispose of into landfill?
It seems there's just too much riding on saying that what he did was wrong. It makes more things that are "right" in theory become illegal than it does things that are "wrong" in theory stay illegal.