HIH Casualty and General Insurance Limited and others v Chase Manhattan Bank and others: HL 20 Feb 2003

The insurance company had paid claims on policies used to underwrite the production of TV films. The re-insurers resisted the claims against them by the insurers on the grounds of non-disclosure by the insured, or in the alternative damages for misrepresentation. The policies were novel and sophisticated contracts and included clauses modifying the duties of disclosure by inclusion of a ‘truth of statement clause’. The clause appeared expressly not to require any representation as to the financial viabillity of the projected films, and to avoid liability for any misrepresentation made to the insurers. In this case the insurers sought to rely upon representations of the insurers themselves.
Held: The clause was intended to excuse a wide range of misrepresentation, but the law, on public policy grounds, does not permit a contracting party to exclude liability for his own fraud in inducing the making of the contract. Express and clear words were needed to avoid the consequences of fraudulent misrepresentation by a party’s agent and ‘it is extraordinarily unlikely that parties to a contract will agree a term which excludes liability for fraud with sufficient clarity to raise squarely the question of whether it should be lawful to do so’. The insurers were entitled to damages or to avoid the contract for fraudulent misrepresentation or fraudulent non-disclosure by the agent. Lord Hoffmann said that discussions about the effect and nature of the precise words used by law lords in either agreeing, entirely agreeing or concurring in the words of others amounted to an exercise which had ‘more in common with reading tea leaves than with legal reasoning’.


Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough, Lord Scott of Foscote


[2003] UKHL 6, [2003] 1 All ER Comm 349, [2003] 2 Lloyd’s Law Reports 61, [2004] ICR 1708, [2003] Lloyds Rep IR 230, [2003] 1 CLC 358


House of Lords, Bailii


Misrepresentation Act 1967 2(1), Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977


England and Wales


Appeal fromHIH Casualty And General Insurance Limited and Others v The Chase Manhattan Bank and Others CA 31-Jul-2001
Parties syndicating finance for a film obtained the security of an insurance which is designed to pay up to the sum insured, if the revenues generated by the film were insufficient to repay the loan finance plus associated expenses. The polices were . .
CitedCanada Steamship Lines Ltd v The King PC 21-Jan-1952
A lease of a freight shed exonerated the lessor from ‘any claim . . for . . damage . . to . . Goods . . being . . in the said shed’ and requiring the lessee to indemnify the lessor ‘from and against all claims’. The negligent use of an oxy-acetylene . .
CitedLazarus Estates Ltd v Beasley CA 1956
There was a privative clause in the 1954 Act. A landlord’s declaration under the Act that work of a specified value, supporting an increase in rent, had been carried out on leased premises, could not be questioned after 28 days of its service on the . .
CitedSociete Anonyme d’Intermediaries Luxembourgeois v Farex Gie CA 1995
The court considered the duty of disclosure impsed upon an insured: ‘Why should it be a breach of good faith sufficient to deprive the assured of his contract if the agent fails to disclose something which, had the assured known of it, would not . .
CitedWeir v Bell 1878
‘I think that every person who authorizes another to act for him in the making of any contract, undertakes for the absence of fraud in that person in the execution of the authority given, as much as he undertakes for its absence in himself when he . .
CitedS Pearson and Son Ltd v Dublin Corporation HL 1907
A clause in a building contract provided that the contractor should satisfy himself as to the dimensions, levels and nature of all existing works. Did this exclude an action based on alleged fraudulent misrepresentations by the council’s engineers . .
CitedBanque Keyser Ullmann SA v Skandia (UK) Insurance Co Ltd CA 1990
A loan was to be made. An agent of the borrower came to know of the fraudulent nature of the loan, but said nothing.
Held: A failure to disclose a known fraud may itself amount to a misrepresentation, but nondisclosure (whether dishonest or . .
CitedPan Atlantic Insurance Co Ltd and Another v Pine Top Insurance Co Ltd HL 27-Jul-1994
The plaintiff had written long term (tail) insurance. The defendant came to re-insure it. On a dispute there were shown greater losses than had been disclosed, and that this had been known to the Plaintiff.
Held: ‘material circumstance’ which . .
CitedPCW Syndicate v PCW Reinsurers CA 8-Sep-1995
A policy was not avoided by the agent’s failure to disclose his own dishonesty with the principal. In this area there was no difference between the law of Marine Insurance and other insurances. . .
CitedBlackburn, Low and Co v Vigors HL 1887
There was a condition precedent of full disclosure of material facts in an insurance contract. The duty of an agent to disclose circumstances within his own knowledge to the insurer is independent of the duty of the insured to make disclosure, but: . .
CitedHollier v Rambler Motors (AMC) Ltd CA 19-Nov-1971
The plaintiff left his car with the defendant garage for repair. Whilst there it was substantially damaged by fire. The defendant sought to rely upon their terms which would negative liability, saying that the terms had been incorporated by . .
CitedAilsa Craig Fishing Co Ltd v Malvern Fishing Co Ltd HL 26-Nov-1981
Even though a shipowner who had carried cargo on deck was not entitled to rely on the exceptions to liability in his contract, a limitation clause was different and should not be construed by reference to the specially exacting standards applicable . .
CitedGillespie Bros and Co Ltd v Roy Bowles Transport Ltd CA 1973
The court looked at how it should construe the Canada Steamship guidelines with regard to an exemption clause absolving one party of responsibility for negligence. There was a express reference to negligence by the words ‘save harmless and keep . . . .
CitedSmith v UMB Chrysler (Scotland) Ltd HL 9-Nov-1977
The principles set out in Canada Steamship apply to ‘clauses which purport to exempt one party to a contract from liability’. The principles should be applied without ‘mechanistic construction’.
Lord Keith of Kinkel said: The tests were . .
CitedNational Westminster Bank v Utrecht-America Finance Company CA 10-May-2001
An agreement between the parties for assignment or novation of a credit agreement, contained a ‘take out’ agreement (‘TOA’). The defendant began proceedings in California to rescind the agreement, and the claimants obtained summary judgement under . .
CitedGeorge Mitchell (Chesterhall) Ltd v Finney Lock Seeds Ltd CA 29-Sep-1982
The buyer bought 30lbs of cabbage seed, but the seed was not correct, and the crop was worthless. The seed cost pounds 192, but the farmer lost pounds 61,000. The seed supplier appealed the award of the larger amount and interest, saying that their . .
CitedToomey v Eagle Star Insurance Co Ltd (No 2) QBD 1995
Applying Canada Steamship Lines Ltd v The King, Colman J said: ‘Notwithstanding the commercial purpose of this transaction, the correct approach, as a matter of construction, is to conclude that in fact the effect of cl (a) is only to exclude the . .
CitedToomey v Eagle Star Insurance Co Ltd CA 1994
The word ‘reinsurance’ is often used loosely simply to describe any contract of insurance which is placed by or for the benefit of an insurer, but it should be construed more properly to require the insurance of an insurable interest in the subject . .
CitedLee v Jones CCP 1864
Jones had guaranteed to Lee payment of any balance due to them by their agent Packer. Jones sought to set aside the guarantee on ground of fraud by Lee. The fraud alleged was the failure of Lee to disclose that Packer had not properly accounted to . .
CitedRivaz v Gerussi Brothers and Co CA 1880
Underwriters were held entitled to avoid insurance policies because of concealment of the undervalue of the insured shipments. Brett LJ said: ‘Here it was not only a concealment, but a fraudulent concealment, for the matter concealed was kept back . .
CitedBanque Keyser Ullmann SA v Skandia (UK) Insurance Co Ltd HL 1991
Banks had made loans against property which the borrower had said was valuable, and, also insurance policies against any shortfall on the realisation of the property. The borrower was a swindler and the property worthless. The insurers relied upon a . .
CitedGluckstein v Barnes; Re Olympia Ltd, ex parte Gluckstein HL 1900
Directors’ hidden profits disclosable
Promoters of a company had acquired a property intending its resale through the sale of shares in the company. In doing so the original directors made a substantial profit which they did not disclose (though it was discoverable). The company became . .
CitedBrownlie v Campbell; Brownlie v Miller HL 1880
Silence where there is a duty to speak, may amount to a misrepresentation. Lord Blackburn said: ‘where there is a duty or an obligation to speak, and a man in breach of that duty or obligation holds his tongue and does not speak, and does not say . .
CitedMackender v Feldia AG CA 1966
A clause provided that an insurance policy should be governed by Belgian law and that ‘any disputes arising thereunder shall be exclusively subject to Belgian jurisdiction.’ The underwriters avoided the contract for non-disclosure of material facts . .
CitedBlackburn, Low and Co v Vigors CA 1886
Lord Esher MR: ‘This seems to me to be the true doctrine. The freedom from mis-representation or concealment is a condition precedent to the right of the assured to insist on the performance of the contract, so that on a failure of the performance . .
CitedHeyman v Darwins Limited HL 1942
An arbitration clause will survive a repudiatory breach: ‘I agree with the Lord Chancellor in thinking that the true ground of the decision in Jureidini v National British and Irish Millers Insurance Co Ltd was the narrowness of the field of . .
CitedLazarus Estates Ltd v Beasley CA 1956
There was a privative clause in the 1954 Act. A landlord’s declaration under the Act that work of a specified value, supporting an increase in rent, had been carried out on leased premises, could not be questioned after 28 days of its service on the . .

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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insurance, Media, Contract

Leading Case

Updated: 08 April 2022; Ref: scu.179502