The test of whether a person who received funds held them on constructive trust, was not whether he himself was dishonest, but rather whether he had knowledge of circumstances which made it unconscionable to hold on to the money received. In respect of commercial transactions actual knowledge rather than mere constructive knowledge was required. The court distinguished between cases of knowing receipt and cases of knowing or dishonest assistance. Just as ‘there is now a single test of dishonesty for knowing assistance, so ought there to be a single test of knowledge for knowing receipt. The recipient’s state of knowledge must be such as to make it unconscionable for him to retain the benefit of the receipt. A test in that form, though it cannot, any more than any other, avoid difficulties of application, ought to avoid those of definition and allocation to which the previous categorisations have led. Moreover, it should better enable the courts to give commonsense decisions in the commercial context in which claims in knowing receipt are now frequently made.’
Nourse, Ward and Sedley LJJ
Times 22-Jun-2000, Gazette 29-Jun-2000,  Ch 437,  EWCA Civ 502,  Lloyd’s Rep Bank 292,  4 All ER 221, (1999-2000) 2 ITELR 788,  3 WLR 1423,  WTLR 1049,  BCC 968
England and Wales
Applied – El Ajou v Dollar Land Holdings Ltd CA 2-Dec-1993
The court was asked whether, for the purposes of establishing a company’s liability under the knowing receipt head of constructive trust, the knowledge of one of its directors can be treated as having been the knowledge of the company.
Held: . .
Cited – Belmont Finance Corporation Ltd v Williams Furniture Ltd (No 2) 1980
It had been alleged that there had been a conspiracy involving the company giving unlawful financial assistance for the purchase of its own shares.
Held: Dishonesty is not a necessary ingredient of liability in an allegation of a ‘knowing . .
Approved – Eagle Trust Plc v SBC Securities Ltd; Same v Sbci Bank Corporation Investment Banking Ltd ChD 28-Sep-1994
A financial adviser was not liable in negligence for the allegedly negligent selection of sub-underwriters. On the issue of knowing receipt in a claim for restitution, ‘What the decision in Belmont (No 2) . . shows most clearly is that in a . .
Cited – In re Montagu’s Settlement Trusts 1987
In the context of knowing receipt, a categorisation of knowledge is used to determine whether a person is bound by notice.
Sir Robert Megarry V-C said: ‘The cold calculus of constructive and imputed notice does not seem to me to be an . .
Appeal from – Bank of Credit and Commerce International (Overseas) Ltd and Another v Akindele ChD 1999
Chief Akindele agreed in 1985 with ICIC Overseas to invest US$10m in the purchase of 250,000 shares of BCCI Holdings, and to hold the shares for two years. If he wanted to sell the shares after the expiry of two years and up to five years from the . .
Disapproved in part – Royal Brunei Airlines SDN BHD v Tan PC 24-May-1995
(Brunei) The defendants were a one-man company, BLT, and the one man, Mr Tan. A dishonest third party to a breach of trust was liable to make good a resulting loss even though he had received no trust property. The test of knowledge was an objective . .
Cited – Manchester Corporation v Furness 1895
The court placed emphasis on the desirability of upholding bona fide commercial transactions, and the corresponding undesirability of allowing notions of constructive notice to intrude into commercial transactions. . .
Cited – Niru Battery Manufacturing Company, Bank Sepah Iran v Milestone Trading Limited CA 23-Oct-2003
The claimant had contracted to purchase lead from some of the defendants. There were delays in payment but when funds were made available they should have been repaid. An incorrect bill of lading was presented. The bill certified that the goods had . .
Cited – Criterion Properties Plc v Stratford UK Properties and others CA 18-Dec-2002
The parties came together in a limited partnership to develop property. The appeal was against a refusal to grant summary judgment on a claim that one party had been induced to enter the contract by a fraudulent misrepresentation.
Held: In . .
Cited – Criterion Properties Plc v Stratford UK Properties Llc and others ChD 27-Mar-2002
Criterion sought to set aside a shareholders agreement. Their partner had said they were concerned that another party was taking Criterion over and that this would put at risk their working relationships. The agreement sought to add a poison pill to . .
Cited – Charter Plc and Another v City Index Ltd and others ChD 12-Oct-2006
An employee of the claimant had fraudulently spent several million pounds of the claimant’s money on personal bets through the defendant company. The claimant said that the defendants knew the origin of the funds and were liable to repay them. . .
Cited – City Index Ltd and others v Gawler and others; Charter plc v City Index Ltd CA 21-Dec-2007
A senior employee of Charter had fraudulently spent substantial sums with City Index. City Index had paid out on a claim of knowing receipt, and sought contributions from directors of Charter and their auditors, saying that they had known of the . .
Criticised – Criterion Properties plc v Stratford UK Properties LLC and others HL 17-Jun-2004
The parties presented their claim before the House, but the House found that it was to be argued differently. The new arguments had not been pursued or prepared before the case came to the House, and it was remitted to the lower courts for the issue . .
Cited – Yeoman’s Row Management Ltd and Another v Cobbe HL 30-Jul-2008
The parties agreed in principle for the sale of land with potential development value. Considerable sums were spent, and permission achieved, but the owner then sought to renegotiate the deal.
Held: The appeal succeeded in part. The finding . .
Cited – Law Society of England and Wales v Isaac and Isaac International Holdings Ltd and Others ChD 7-Jul-2010
Cited – XX and Others v YY and Others ChD 2-Jul-2021
The first defendant applies for an order that the claimants are not entitled to pursue legal action against his lawyers in respect of funds over which the claimants claim a proprietary interest and paid to the first defendant’s lawyers as legal fees . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 30 October 2021; Ref: scu.78137