The tort of deceit

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The tort of deceit
  • Deceit—what is it?
  • Deceit—knowledge of the falsity of the statement made
  • Deceit—summary explanation of the key requirements
  • Deceit by recklessness—what is required?
  • Deceit—‘mere silence’ and fiduciaries
  • Deceit—joint tortfeasor liability and agency
  • Deceit—property transactions
  • Pleading deceit
  • Potential limitation issue—equitable relief for deceit
  • More...

The tort of deceit

Deceit—what is it?

A deceit occurs when a misrepresentation is made with the express intention of defrauding a party, subsequently causing loss to that party.

The elements of a claim in deceit are:

  1. a clear false representation of fact or law

  2. fraud by the maker, in the sense that they knew that the representation was false, or had no belief in its truth, or was reckless whether it was true or false

  3. an intent that the representation should be acted on by the claimant

  4. action by the claimant in reliance on the representation

  5. damage suffered by the claimant in reliance on the representation

In Connolly v Bellway Homes, the seller of development land was able to obtain damages from the buyer on the basis that it relied upon a statement by the buyer about the value per square foot of development land. The figure suggested by the buyer was used as the base figure in a formula designed to provide the seller with a share of the increase in value of the site. The buyer's representative adopted a figure of £210 per square foot in the negotiations, giving the impression that this was comparable to other developments. Negotiations continued in reliance on this representation and a base figure of £212 was agreed. The court accepted evidence that £183 would have been appropriate. Because the

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