FHR European Ventures Llp and Others v Cedar Capital Partners Llc: SC 16 Jul 2014

Approprietary remedy against Fraudulent Agent

The Court was asked whether a bribe or secret commission received by an agent is held by the agent on trust for his principal, or whether the principal merely has a claim for equitable compensation in a sum equal to the value of the bribe or commission.
Held: The appeal failed. An agent receiving a secret commission in breach of his fiduciary duties to his principal, held that commission or bribe in trust for that principal, and a proprietary remedy was available in respect of it.
There had been conflicting decisions and much academic discussion over the years as to the availability of the remedy requested. Where an agent acquires a benefit which came to his notice as a result of his fiduciary position, or pursuant to an opportunity which results from his fiduciary position, the general equitable rule (‘the Rule’) is that he is to be treated as having acquired the benefit on behalf of his principal, so it is beneficially owned by the principal. How did the rule apply where the bribe was taken by an agent in breach of his fiduciary duty.

Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Mance, Lord Sumption, Lord Carnwath, Lord Toulson, Lord Hodge, Lord Collins
[2014] UKSC 45, [2014] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 471, [2014] 2 All ER (Comm) 425, [2014] WTLR 1135, [2014] 4 All ER 79, [2015] 1 AC 250, [2014] Lloyd’s Rep FC 617, [2014] 3 WLR 535, [2014] WLR(D) 317, [2014] 2 BCLC 145, [2015] 1 P and CR DG1, UKSC 2013/0049
Bailii, Bailii Summary, WLRD, SC, SC Summary, SC Video
England and Wales
At ChDFHR European Ventures Llp and Others v Mankarious and Others ChD 5-Sep-2011
The claimants sought return of what it said were secret commissions earned by the defendants when working as their agents, and the defendants counterclaimed saying that the commissions had been known to the claimants and that additional sums were . .
Appeal fromFHR European Ventures Llp and Others v Mankarious and Others CA 29-Jan-2013
The defendants had taken a secret commission when acting for the claimant. They had succeeded in their action and had an order in their favour, but had been refused a proprietary remedy for the sum received.
Held: The appeal was allowed, and a . .
CitedKeech v Sandford ChD 1726
Trustee’s Renewed Lease also Within Trust
A landlord refused to renew a lease to a trustee for the benefit of a minor. The trustee then took a new lease for his own benefit. The new lease had not formed part of the original trust property; the minor could not have acquired the new lease . .
CitedCarter, Esq v Sir William Henry Palmer, Bart 17-Mar-1842
The employment of counsel as confidential legal adviser disables him from purchasing for his own benefit charges on his client’s etates, without his permission ; and although the confidential employment ceases, the disability continues as long as . .
CitedBowes v The City Of Toronto PC 15-Feb-1858
The mayor of a city who bought discounted debentures issued by the city was in the same position as an agent vis-a-vis the city, and was to be treated as holding the debentures on trust for the city. . .
CitedDunne v English CA 1874
A partner had made a secret profit from the sale of partnership property.
Held: The other partner sought and obtained relief ‘substantially in accordance with the first and second paragraphs of the prayer of the bill’, which had sought ‘a . .
CitedBagnall v Carlton CA 1877
Agents for a prospective company who made secret profits out of a contract made by the company were held to be ‘trustees for the company’ of those profits . .
CitedCook v Deeks and Hinds PC 23-Feb-1916
Company Directors not free to prefer Own Interests
Deeks and Hinds were the directors of a construction company. They negotiated a lucrative construction contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway. During the negotiations, they decided to enter into the contract personally, on their own behalves, . .
CitedRegal (Hastings) Ltd v Gulliver HL 20-Feb-1942
Directors Liability for Actions Ouside the Company
Regal negotiated for the purchase of two cinemas in Hastings. There were five directors on the board, including Mr Gulliver, the chairman. Regal incorporated a subsidiary, Hastings Amalgamated Cinemas Ltd, with a share capital of 5,000 pounds. There . .
CitedPhipps v Boardman ChD 1964
Agents of certain trustees had purchased shares, in circumstances where they only had that opportunity because they were agents.
Held: The shares were held beneficially for the trust. . .
CitedMothew (T/a Stapley and Co) v Bristol and West Building Society CA 24-Jul-1996
The solicitor, acting in a land purchase transaction for his lay client and the plaintiff, had unwittingly misled the claimant by telling the claimant that the purchasers were providing the balance of the purchase price themselves without recourse . .
CitedBhullar and others v Bhullar and Another CA 31-Mar-2003
The claimants were 50% shareholders in a property investment company and sought relief alleging prejudicial conduct of the company’s affairs. After a falling out, two directors purchased property adjacent to a company property but in their own . .
CitedBarker v Harrison 16-Apr-1846
A vendor’s agent had secretly negotiated a sub-sale of part of the property from the purchaser at an advantageous price.
Held: that asset was held on trust for the vendor. . .
CitedFawcett v Whitehouse 21-Dec-1829
The defendant, intending to enter into a partnership with the plaintiffs, negotiated for the grant by a landlord of a lease to the partnership. The landlord paid the defendant andpound;12,000 for persuading the partnership to accept the lease.
CitedSugden v Crossland 18-Feb-1856
A sum of money paid to a trustee to persuade him to retire in favour of the payee was to be ‘treated as a part of the trust fund’. . .
CitedIn re Morvah Consols Tin Mining Co, McKay’s Case CA 1875
A company bought a mine, and shares in the vendor were promised to the company’s secretary.
Held: The shares were held by him for the company beneficially. . .
CitedIn re Western of Canada Oil, Lands and Works Co, Carling, Hespeler, and Walsh’s Cases CA 1875
Shares which had been transferred by a person to individuals to induce them to become directors of a company and to agree that the company would buy land from the person, were held by the individuals on trust for the company. . .
CitedIn re Caerphilly Colliery Co, Pearson’s Case CA 1877
A company director, had received shares from the promoters and then acted for the company in its purchase of a colliery from the promoters.
Held: The shares were held on trust for the company. . .
CitedNant-y-glo and Blaina Ironworks Co v Grave 1878
Shares in a company had been given by a promoter to the defendant to induce him to become a director.
Held: They belonged to the company. . .
CitedEden v Ridsdale Railway Lamp and Lighting Co Ltd CA 1889
The company was held to be entitled as against a director to shares which he had secretly received from a person with whom the company was negotiating. . .
CitedMartin v Lowry (HM Inspector of Taxes) KBD 15-Jun-1925
The taxpayer had other business, but purchased a substantial quantity of cloth and resold it. He said this was not by way of trade. The Revenue said that he had used all the standard trade practices, and it was taxable as such.
Held: The . .
CitedMartin v Lowry (HM Inspector of Taxes) CA 1926
The appellant purchased the entire stock of government surplus aircraft linen. He had another main business and had intended to resell it immediately. When that failed to promise a profit he set out to sell and sold the material over several months . .
CitedWilliams v Barton 1927
A trustee, who recommended that his co-trustees use stockbrokers who gave him a commission, held the commission on trust for the trust. . .
CitedTyrrell v The Bank Of London And Sir J v Shelley And Others HL 27-Feb-1862
A solicitor retained to act for a company in the course of formation secretly arranged to benefit from his prospective client’s anticipated acquisition of a building called the ‘Hall of Commerce’ by obtaining from the owner a 50% beneficial interest . .
CitedMetropolitan Bank v Heiron CA 1880
A claim brought by a company against a director was time-barred: the claim was to recover a bribe paid by a third party to induce the director to influence the company to negotiate a favourable settlement with the third party. The bank failed in its . .
CitedLister and Co v Stubbs CA 1890
It was alleged by the plaintiffs that their foreman had received secret commissions which he had invested in land and other investments. They sought interlocutory relief to prevent him dealing with the land and requiring him to bring the other . .
CitedIn re North Australian Territory Co, Archer’s case CA 1892
A bribe had been paid to an agent. . .
CitedDiplock And Others v Blackburn 19-Jul-1811
If the master of a ship in a foreign port, from the state of the exchange, receives a premum for a bill drawn upon England on account of the ship, this belongs to his owner, although there may have been a usage for masters of shps to apprapriate . .
CitedThe Attorney General of Hong Kong v Reid and Reid And Marc Molloy Co PC 1-Nov-1993
(New Zealand) The Board considered the power to recover property owned by a public official found to have taken bribes.
Held: The bribes received by the policeman were held on trust for his principal, and so they could be traced into . .
CitedKak Loui Chan v Zacharia 1984
(High Court of Australia) The fundamental rule that obliged fiduciaries to account for personal benefit or gain had two separate themes: ‘The variations between more precise formulations of the principle governing the liability to account are . .
CitedFyffes Group Ltd v Templeman and others ComC 22-May-2000
The claimants alleged that over a five year period from 1992 to 1996 their employee Mr Simon Templeman, the first defendant, took bribes amounting to over US $1.4 million from or with the connivance of the second to seventh defendants. The essential . .
CitedDaraydan Holdings Limited, Cairn Estates Limited and Others v Solland International Limited and Others ChD 26-Mar-2004
The court was asked whether Lister and Co v Stubbs 45 ChD 1, a decision of the Court of Appeal, was binding on him or whether he could apply the Privy Council’s decision in Attorney General for Hong Kong v Reid
Held: On the facts of the case . .
CitedSinclair Investments (UK) Ltd v Versailles Trade Finance Ltd and Others CA 29-Mar-2011
The appellant challenged a decision that it was not entitled to a proprietary interest in the proceeds of sale of some shares which had been acquired with the proceeds of a breach of trust. Specifically, the claims gave rise to (i) an issue as to . .
CitedGrimaldi v Chameleon Mining NL (No 2) 21-Feb-2012
Federal Court of Australia
CORPORATIONS – Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), s 9 – ‘director’ – ‘officer’ – de facto director – no single test for determining whether a person is such – assuming or performing the functions of a director of the . .

Cited by:
CitedAIB Group (UK) Plc v Mark Redler and Co Solicitors SC 5-Nov-2014
Bank not to recover more than its losses
The court was asked as to the remedy available to the appellant bank against the respondent, a firm of solicitors, for breach of the solicitors’ custodial duties in respect of money entrusted to them for the purpose of completing a loan which was to . .
CitedBailey and Another v Angove’s Pty Ltd SC 27-Jul-2016
The defendant had agreed to act as the claimant’s agent and distributor of the claimant’s wines in the UK. It acted both as agent and also bought wines on its own account. When the defendant went into litigation the parties disputed the right of the . .
CitedCrown Prosecution Service v Aquila Advisory Ltd SC 3-Nov-2021
. .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Agency, Equity, Torts – Other

Leading Case

Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.534405