Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro Spa v Playboy Club London Ltd and Others: SC 26 Jul 2018

The Playboy casino required a reference for a customer, but asked for this through a third party. The bank was not aware of the agency but gave a good reference for a customer who had never deposited any money with them and nor to whom it had issued cheques. Playboy sought damages under the reference.
Held: Playboy’s appeal failed: ‘It is impossible to feel much sympathy for BNL given the circumstances in which they came to give a favourable credit reference for some one with whom they appear to have had no relevant dealings. But they had no reason to suppose that Burlington was acting for some one else, and they knew nothing of the Playboy Club. In those circumstances, it is plain that they did not voluntarily assume any responsibility to the Club. It may well be, since they knew nothing of Burlington either, that they were indifferent to whom they were dealing with. But the fact that a representor may have been equally willing to assume a duty to some one else does not mean that he can be treated as if he had done so.’


Lady Hale, President, Lord Mance, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Briggs


[2018] UKSC 43, [2018] LLR 657, [2019] 2 All ER 478, [2018] 1 WLR 4041, 179 Con LR 17, [2019] 1 All ER (Comm) 693, [2018] PNLR 35, [2018] WLR(D) 530


Bailii, WLRD, Bailii Summary


England and Wales


CitedNocton v Lord Ashburton HL 19-Jun-1914
The defendant solicitor had persuaded his client to release a charge, thus advancing the solicitor’s own subsequent charge on the same property. The action was started in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The statement of claim alleged fraud . .
CitedCandler v Crane Christmas and Co CA 15-Dec-1950
Though the accounts of the company in which the plaintiff had invested had been carelessly prepared and gave a wholly misleading picture of the state of the company, the plaintiff could not recover damages. A false statement, carelessly, as . .
CitedHedley Byrne and Co Ltd v Heller and Partners Ltd HL 28-May-1963
Banker’s Liability for Negligent Reference
The appellants were advertising agents. They were liable themselves for advertising space taken for a client, and had sought a financial reference from the defendant bankers to the client. The reference was negligent, but the bankers denied any . .
CitedForsikringsaktieselskapt Vesta v Butcher HL 1988
A contract of insurance and a facultative reinsurance, under which part of the original risk was reinsured, contained warranties in identical terms.
Held: The warranty in the reinsurance policy, which was governed by English law, should be . .
CitedSteel and Another v NRAM Ltd (Formerly NRAM Plc) SC 28-Feb-2018
The appellant solicitor acted in a land transaction. The land was mortgaged to the respondent bank. She wrote to the bank stating her client’s intention to repay the whole loan. The letter was negligently mistaken and the bankers allowed the . .
CitedSmith v Eric S Bush, a firm etc HL 20-Apr-1989
In Smith, the lender instructed a valuer who knew that the buyer and mortgagee were likely to rely on his valuation alone. The valuer said his terms excluded responsibility. The mortgagor had paid an inspection fee to the building society and . .
Appeal fromPlayboy Club London Limited and Others v Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro Spa CA 18-May-2016
The club brought an action against the bank as to a reference given on behalf of a customer. They had certified him ‘good’ for 1.6m pounds, despite his having no funds in his account. . .
At QBDPlayboy Club London Ltd and Others v Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro Spa QBD 10-Jul-2014
The claimant casino alleged negligence by the defendant bank in a reference it had given for a mutual customer, leading to substantial losses. The requests was made on behalf of the claimant by a third party acting as its undisclosed agent. The . .
CitedCaparo Industries Plc v Dickman and others HL 8-Feb-1990
Limitation of Loss from Negligent Mis-statement
The plaintiffs sought damages from accountants for negligence. They had acquired shares in a target company and, relying upon the published and audited accounts which overstated the company’s earnings, they purchased further shares.
Held: The . .
CitedHenderson v Merrett Syndicates Ltd HL 25-Jul-1994
Lloyds Agents Owe Care Duty to Member; no Contract
Managing agents conducted the financial affairs of the Lloyds Names belonging to the syndicates under their charge. It was alleged that they managed these affairs with a lack of due careleading to enormous losses.
Held: The assumption of . .
CitedSiu Yin Kwan and Another v Eastern Insurance Co Ltd PC 16-Dec-1993
Insurers are liable to undisclosed principals on an indemnity policy, provided it was made with the range of their authority. The claim arose out of the death of two seamen on their employers’ vessel but the employers were not named in the relevant . .
CitedSpring v Guardian Assurance Plc and Others HL 7-Jul-1994
The plaintiff, who worked in financial services, complained of the terms of the reference given by his former employer. Having spoken of his behaviour towards members of the team, it went on: ‘his former superior has further stated he is a man of . .

Cited by:

See AlsoPlayboy Club London Ltd v Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro Spa CA 12-Sep-2018
Appeal from striking out of claim for deceit . .
See AlsoPlayboy Club London Ltd v Banca Nazionale Del Lavora Spa ComC 21-Feb-2019
. .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Banking, Negligence

Updated: 11 February 2022; Ref: scu.620134