The recent judgment of Mr Justice Mann, sitting in the Chancery Division in the case of Mortgage Agency Services Number One Limited v Cripps Harries LLP  EWHC 2482, highlights the importance of instructing specialist lawyers such as PCB Litigation, who understand the components of – and know what is required to claim and establish – fraud.
The case involved the claimant, the lender, claiming damages for fraud and conspiracy against the defendant, the borrower’s solicitors. During the course of a seven day trial, the claimant’s counsel submitted that a solicitor and legal executive in the defendant firm had deliberately and falsely misled it into lending to the defendant’s client by dishonestly making several misrepresentations.
None of the allegations of dishonesty were made out against either the solicitor or the legal executive and the motives relied upon by the claimant to support the allegations of dishonesty were found to be implausible. The claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy were dismissed.
In dismissing the claims and exonerating the solicitor and the legal executive, Mr Justice Mann noted “one might wonder how a claim can be brought and sustained over so many points and yet fail on all of them so comprehensively”. He concluded that this was because (i) the prospects of establishing fraud were not directly proportional to the number of adverse allegations being made, and (ii) the claimant’s anxiety to maximise its recovery in what was a fairly disastrous loan.
He found that “the claimant donned its fraud detection goggles, turned the sensitivity up to high and attributed a dishonest motive to every interesting feature in the landscape. That led to a large number of accusations of dishonesty being made. Some allegations came close to being allegations which should not have been made or sustained (though I acknowledge that the claimant did exercise sufficient judgment to abandon some allegations after the close of evidence). Whilst motive is not a necessary ingredient in the claim, as I have frequently said, it is obviously important and I doubt if sufficient attention was paid to the realities of that part of the case, especially once the defendant’s evidence was complete”.