Metal und Rohstoff AG v Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette Inc: CA 27 Jan 1989

The claimants sued for negligent advice and secured judgment. The defendant company became insolvent, and so the plaintiff now sued the US parent company alleging conspiracy. The court considered a tort of malicious prosecution of a civil claim, saying the plaintiff must establish that the defendant had instigated ‘without reasonable and probable cause’, but then lost the previous proceedings and have been actuated by malice, and have suffered damage. The court doubted the general existence of the tort.
No action lies, save for very limited exceptions in the nature of abuse of process, for recompense for damage caused by litigation itself. Slade LJ considered the notion of a constructive trust: ‘No satisfactory definition of a constructive trust has yet been enunciated, and perhaps none ever will be; for the concept is still uncertain and the boundaries obscure . . Nevertheless, as appears from . . Snell, there are, among others, at least three well-established categories of constructive trust. A person receiving property which is already subject to a trust becomes a constructive trustee thereof either (1) if he receives the trust property with actual or constructive notice that it is trust property and that the transfer to him is in breach of trust (which we will call a ‘receipt of property constructive trust’) or (2) if, after receiving it, otherwise than as a purchaser for value without notice of the trust, he acquires notice of the trust and thereafter deals with it in a manner inconsistent with the trust (which we will call a ‘wrongful dealing constructive trust’), and (3) a person who does not actually himself receive the trust property, may also be treated as a constructive trustee if, . . he assists with knowledge a fraudulent design on the part of the trustees.’
Slade LJ said: ‘Although we have not heard full argument on this point, we have great doubt whether any general tort of maliciously instituting civil proceedings exists. The courts have countenanced claims by a plaintiff complaining of a malicious and unjustified arrest or of malicious and unjustified institution of bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings, but the cases have not (to our knowledge) gone beyond these limited categories. There are dicta suggesting that in the case of an ordinary civil action, however maliciously and unjustifiably brought, the successful defendant has no cause of action in tort.’


Slade, Stocker and Bingham LJJ


[1990] 1 QB 391, Gazette 04-Oct-1989, [1989] 3 All ER 14, [1989] 3 WLR 563


England and Wales


CitedLonrho Ltd v Shell Petroleum Co Ltd (No 2) HL 1-Apr-1981
No General Liability in Tort for Wrongful Acts
The plaintiff had previously constructed an oil supply pipeline from Beira to Mozambique. After Rhodesia declared unilateral independence, it became a criminal offence to supply to Rhodesia without a licence. The plaintiff ceased supply as required, . .
Appeal fromMetall und Rohstoff AG v Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette Inc and another QBD 29-Mar-1988
The plaintiff had suffered damage when given negligent advice. It obtained a judgment but the company became insolvent, and it now sought to sue the US parent company in conspiracy. The defendant said that to establish conspiracy it was necessary . .

Cited by:

CitedBalkanbank v Naser Taher and Others QBD 13-Feb-1995
The plaintiff had obtained a worldwide Mareva injunction, giving an undertaking for damages. On its discharge, the defendants sought to make a counterclaim. The defendant company and its subsidiaries sought to counterclaim for their damages suffered . .
CitedSmithkline Beecham Plc Glaxosmithkline UK Ltd and Another v Apotex Europe Ltd and others (No 2) CA 23-May-2006
The parties to the action had given cross undertakings to support the grant of an interim injunction. A third party subsequently applied to be joined, and now sought to take advantage of the cross undertakings to claim the losses incurred through . .
CitedIslamic Republic of Pakistan v Zardari and others ComC 6-Oct-2006
The claimant alleged that the defendants had funded the purchase of various properties by secret and unlawful commissions taken by them whilst in power in Pakistan. They sought to recover the proceeds. They now sought permission to serve proceedings . .
CitedGregory v Portsmouth City Council CA 5-Nov-1997
The plaintiff councillor had been disciplined by the defendant for allegations. The findings were later overturned, and he now sought damages alleging malicious prosecution.
Held: The categories of malicious prosecution are closed, and it was . .
AppliedKitechnology BV v Unicor GmbH CA 1995
The plaintiffs owned confidential information relating to novel plastic coated pipes; the defendants were German companies and individuals domiciled in Germany, who it was alleged had used the plaintiffs’ confidential information. One issue the . .
CitedGoogle Inc v Vidal-Hall and Others CA 27-Mar-2015
Damages for breach of Data Protection
The claimants sought damages alleging that Google had, without their consent, collected personal data about them, which was resold to advertisers. They used the Safari Internet browser on Apple products. The tracking and collation of the claimants’ . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Damages

Updated: 26 July 2022; Ref: scu.200497