Lowick Rose Llp v Swynson Ltd and Another: SC 11 Apr 2017

Losses arose from the misvaluation of a company before its purchase. The respondent had funded the purchase, relying upon a valuation by the predecessor of the appellant firm of accountants. Further advances had been made when the true situation was revealed.
Held: The accountants’ appeal succeeded. As a general rule ‘collateral benefits are those whose receipt arose independently of the circumstances giving rise to the loss’ and loss which has been avoided is not recoverable as damages, although expense reasonably incurred in avoiding it may be recoverable as costs of mitigation. To this there is an exception for collateral payments (res inter alios acta), which the law treats as not making good the claimant’s loss. It is difficult to identify a single principle underlying every case. In spite of what the Latin tag might lead one to expect, the critical factor is not the source of the benefit in a third party but its character. Broadly speaking, collateral benefits are those whose receipt arose independently of the circumstances giving rise to the loss.
In this case: ‘subrogation is not being invoked for its proper purpose, namely to replicate some element of the transaction which was expected but failed. It is being invoked so as to enable Mr Hunt to exercise for his own benefit the claims of Swynson in respect of an unconnected breach of duty under a different transaction between different parties more than two years earlier.’


Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Mance, Lord Clarke, Lord Sumption, Lord, Hodge


[2017] UKSC 32, [2017] 3 All ER 785, [2017] 2 WLR 1161, [2017] 1 CLC 764, [2017] WLR(D) 257, 171 Con LR 75, [2018] AC 313, [2017] PNLR 18, UKSC 2015/0170


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England and Wales


CitedDunlop v Lambert HL 16-Jun-1839
A cargo of whisky was lost in carriage by sea between Leith and Newcastle. A second shipment was made and the loss was claimed. The House was asked whether ‘in a question between a carrier and the person to whom the carrier is responsible in the . .
CitedIn Re Lee’s Patent PC 16-Jun-1856
. .
CitedBradburn v Great Western Rail Co CEC 1874
The plaintiff had received a sum of money from a private insurer to compensate him for lost income as a result of an accident caused by the negligence of the defendant.
Held: He was entitled to full damages as well as the payment from the . .
Appeal fromSwynson Ltd v Lowick Rose Llp CA 25-Jun-2015
This appeal concerns the amount of damages recoverable by a lender from a negligent firm of accountants who failed to do a proper exercise of due diligence on the borrower to whom the money was lent. The majority of the loan was repaid by utilising . .
CitedBritish Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co v Underground Electric Railways Co (London) Limited HL 1912
The plaintiffs purchased eight steam turbines from the defendants. They later proved defective, and the plaintiffs sought damages. In the meantime they purchased replacements, more effective than the original specifications. In the result the . .
CitedParry v Cleaver CA 9-May-1967
The plaintiff policeman was hit by a car whilst he was on traffic duty. When he claimed damages in negligence the defendant sought to have deducted from his award an amount received by way of additional pension payments received which had been . .
CitedParry v Cleaver HL 5-Feb-1969
PI Damages not Reduced for Own Pension
The plaintiff policeman was disabled by the negligence of the defendant and received a disablement pension. Part had been contributed by himself and part by his employer.
Held: The plaintiff’s appeal succeeded. Damages for personal injury were . .
CitedBurston Finance Ltd v Spierway Ltd ChD 1974
The lender took a charge over a property held by a company which subsequently became void because it was not registered within the required period at Companies House.
Held: A voidable charge is a valid charge unless and until set aside: . .
CitedAlbacruz (Cargo Owners) v Albazero ‘The Albazero’ HL 1977
The House was asked as to the extent to which a consignor can claim damages against a carrier in circumstances where the consignor did not retain either property or risk. To the general principle that a person cannot recover substantial damages for . .
At First InstanceSwynson Ltd and Another v Lowick Rose Llp ChD 30-Jun-2014
The claimant said that it had received negligent advice from the defendant accountants in its financing of the purchase of a company in the US. After the company fell into difficulties, further advances were made. The parties disputed the . .
CitedChetwynd v Allen 1899
A lender M advanced pounds 1,200 to pay off an existing mortgage held by T over a property owned by the plaintiff. M made the advance on the basis of certain misleading representations and non-disclosures by the plaintiff’s husband. M was told that . .
CitedPaul v Speirway Ltd (in liquidation) 1976
The plaintiff had made a loan to a company in which he had a joint interest in order to enable it to pay the price due under a contract for the purchase of development land. The company failed, and he now claimed to be a secured creditor by . .
CitedBoscawen and Others v Bajwa and Others; Abbey National Plc v Boscawen and Others CA 10-Apr-1995
The defendant had charged his property to the Halifax. Abbey supplied funds to secure its discharge, but its own charge was not registered. It sought to take advantage of the Halifax’s charge which had still not been removed.
Held: A mortgagee . .
CitedArab Bank Plc v John D Wood Commercial Ltd (In Liquidation) and others CA 25-Nov-1999
Having once recovered damages against a valuer for a negligent survey, there was nothing to stop a lender recovering also under a policy of insurance under a mortgage indemnity guarantee, and so the lender was not required to give credit for monies . .
CitedBank of Cyprus UK Ltd v Menelaou SC 4-Nov-2015
The bank customers, now appellants, redeemed a mortgage over their property, and the property was transferred to family members, who in turn borrowed from the same lender. A bank employee simply changed the name on the mortgage. This was ineffective . .
CitedDarlington Borough Council v Wiltshier Northern Ltd CA 28-Jun-1994
The plaintiff council complained of the work done for it by the defendant builder.
Held: Steyn LJ said: ‘in the case of a building contract, the prima facie rule is cost of cure, i.e., the cost of remedying the defect: East Ham Corporation v. . .
CitedLinden Gardens Trust Ltd v Lenesta Sludge Disposals Ltd and Others; St. Martins Property Corporation Ltd v Sir Robert McAlpine HL 8-Dec-1993
A contractor had done defective work in breach of a building contract with the developer but the loss was suffered by a third party who had by then purchased the development. The developer recovered the loss suffered by the purchaser.
Held: . .
CitedLondon and South of England Building Society v Stone CA 1983
A claim was by lenders against negligent valuers after they failed to spot subsidence. They sought for the difference of pounds 11,880 between the amount advanced and the amount which would have been lent upon a proper valuation. The borrowers’ . .
CitedDarlington Borough Council v Wiltshier Northern Ltd and Others CA 29-Jun-1994
The council owned land on which it wanted to build a recreational centre. Construction contracts were entered into not by the council but by a finance company, the building contractors being the respondents Wiltshier Northern Ltd. The finance . .
CitedRevenue and Customs v The Investment Trust Companies SC 11-Apr-2017
Certain investment trust companies (ITCs) sought refunds of VAT paid on the supply of investment management services. EU law however clarified that they were not due. Refunds were restricted by the Commissioners both as to the amounts and limitation . .
CitedBanque Financiere De La Cite v Parc (Battersea) Ltd and Others HL 16-Apr-1998
The making of an order for restitution after finding an unjust enrichment by subrogation, is not dependant upon having found any common or unilateral intention of the parties. The House distinguished between contractual subrogation of the kind most . .
CitedEdinburgh and District Tramways Co Ltd v Courtenay SCS 29-Oct-1908
(Court of Session Inner House First Division) There was contract between a tramway company and an advertising firm, under which the firm paid a rental for the right to display advertising on the tramcars. It was up to the firm to provide the boards . .
CitedLipkin Gorman (a Firm) v Karpnale Ltd HL 6-Jun-1991
The plaintiff firm of solicitors sought to recover money which had been stolen from them by a partner, and then gambled away with the defendant. He had purchased their gaming chips, and the plaintiff argued that these, being gambling debts, were . .
CitedTFL Management Services Ltd v Lloyds Bank Plc CA 14-Nov-2013
The court was asked: ‘A spends money seeking a judgment for the recovery of a debt from B. A fails to recover the debt because, so the court holds, the debt is not in fact owed by B to A (as A mistakenly thought), but owed by B to C. C then recovers . .

Cited by:

CitedTiuta International Ltd (In Liquidation) v De Villiers Surveyors Ltd SC 29-Nov-2017
Allegation of professional negligence. The claimant sought damages against the defendant surveyors for negligently valuing a partially completed residential development over which it proposed to take a charge to secure a loan. On an initial . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Company, Professional Negligence, Damages

Updated: 27 November 2022; Ref: scu.581644