Lek v Mathews: 1927

Mr Lek was alleged to have dishonestly exaggerated a claim on the insurers of his stock. The policy required that if one part fell, all the claim fell: ‘As to the construction of the false claim clause, I think that it refers to anything falsely claimed, that is, anything not so unsubstantial as to make the maxim de minimis applicable, and is not limited to a claim which as to the whole is false. It means the claim as to particular subject-matters in respect of which a right to indemnity is asserted, not the mere amount of money claimed without regard to the particulars or the contents of the claim; and a claim is false not only if it is deliberately invented but also if it is made recklessly, not caring whether it is true or false but only seeking to succeed in the claim.’
In the Court of Appeal, Atkin LJ had held that even a knowing falsehood would not give rise to a forfeiture if Mr Lek genuinely believed that he was entitled to utter it. Commenting on this observation, Lord Sumner said that Lord Atkin must have had in mind ‘mis-statements on a purely collateral question’, adding that ‘even so I could not agree.’


Viscount Sumner


[1927] 29 Ll LR 141


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedGalloway v Guardian Royal Exchange (UK) Limited CA 15-Oct-1997
The claimant’s policy had been declared void ab initio by the court. On the application form he had falsely stated that he had no convictions, but had only shortly before been convicted of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception. Part of the . .
CitedVersloot Dredging Bv and Another v Hdi Gerling Industrie Versicherung Ag and Others SC 20-Jul-2016
The ‘DC MERWESTONE’ suffered a water ingress of water flooding the engine room. This resulted from (i) the negligence of the crew in failing to close the sea inlet valve of the emergency fire pump and drain down the system, after they had used the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.214224