Akerhielm v De Mare: PC 1959

A company prospectus contained the following: ‘About a third of the capital has already been subscribed in Denmark.’ Though the directors believed this to be true, it was not true at the time the prospectus was issued.
Held: The statement was not fraudulent having been made with an honest belief in its truth. When a party has been acquitted of fraud the decision in his favour should not be displaced except on the clearest grounds.
Lord Jenkins said: ‘their Lordships are satisfied that this is not one of those exceptional cases in which an appellate court is justified in reversing the decision of a judge at first instance when the decision under review is founded upon the judge’s opinion of the credibility of a witness formed after seeing and hearing him give his evidence. Their Lordships can hardly imagine a case in which the credibility of a witness could be more vital than a case like the present where the claim is based on deceit, and the witness in question is one of the defendants charged with deceit. Their Lordships would add that they accept, and would apply in the present case, the principle that where a defendant has been acquitted of fraud in a court of first instance the decision in his favour should not be displaced on appeal except on the clearest grounds.’ and ‘The question is not whether the defendant in any given case honestly believed the representation to be true in the sense assigned to it by the court on an objective consideration of its truth or falsity, but whether he honestly believed the representation to be true in the sense in which he understood it albeit erroneously when it was made.’


Lord Jenkins


[1959] AC 789, [1959] 3 All ER 485




CitedGlasier v Rolb 1889
A finding by a judge that a party is innocent of fraud should only reluctantly be disturbed. . .
CitedSS Hontestroom v SS Sagaporack HL 1927
The court discussed the weight to be given by an appellate court to findings of fact made by the court of first instance.
Held: Not to have seen the witnesses puts appellate judges in a permanent position of disadvantage as against the trial . .
CitedWatt (or Thomas) v Thomas HL 1947
When Scots Appellate Court may set decision aside
The House considered when it was appropriate for an appellate court in Scotland to set aside the judgment at first instance.
Lord Thankerton said: ‘(1) Where a question of fact has been tried by a judge without a jury, and there is no question . .
CitedYuill v Yuill CA 1944
Appellate Court’s Caution in Reassessing Facts
The Court of Appeal was invited to reverse the decision of the judge at first instance to accept the evidence of the petitioner (no evidence having been called by the respondent).
Held: The court considered the caution needed when overturning . .
CitedBenmax v Austin Motor Co Ltd HL 1955
Except for cases which are expressly limited to questions of law, an appellant is entitled to appeal from the Court of Session to the House against any finding, whether it be a finding of law, a finding of fact or a finding involving both law and . .

Cited by:

CitedAssicurazioni Generali Spa v Arab Insurance Group (BSC) CA 13-Nov-2002
Rehearing/Review – Little Difference on Appeal
The appellant asked the Court to reverse a decision on the facts reached in the lower court.
Held: The appeal failed (Majority decision). The court’s approach should be the same whether the case was dealt with as a rehearing or as a review. . .
CitedThe Ikarian Reefer CA 1995
The court reversed the decision of the trial judge that the plaintiff insured shipowners had not deliberately scuttled their vessel or cast her away: ‘(1) The burden of showing that the trial Judge was wrong lies on the appellant . . (2) When . .
AppliedRyan and Another v Strickland Jarvis PC 29-Jun-2005
(Antigua and Barbuda) The parties disputed the effect of a joint venture of the sale of an additional range of cars through a car showroom. One party said the other had misrepresented thir contractual status, and the other said that an approach had . .
CitedYaqoob and Another v Royal Insurance (Uk) Ltd CA 25-May-2006
Appeal against refusal of insurance company to pay on fire loss claim. Building entered by intruders with key.
Held: ‘If after hearing the evidence the judge had been left in the position that he could not be satisfied, on the balance of . .
CitedCrystal Palace FC (2000) Ltd v Dowie QBD 14-Jun-2007
The parties had agreed a compromise on the leaving of the defendant as manager. The club now said that the agreement had been obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation. He had been released but had said he had not had contact with another London club . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Torts – Other, Company

Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.187260