Peconic Industrial Development Ltd v Lau Kwok FAI; 27 Feb 2009

References: [2009] HKCFA 16, [2009] 5 HKC 135, [2009] 2 HKLRD 537, (2009) 12 HKCFAR 139
Links: HKLii
Coram: Mr Justice Bokhary PJ, Mr Justice Chan PJ, Mr Justice Ribeiro PJ, Mr Justice Litton NPJ and Lord Hoffmann NPJ
Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. The limitation period for a claim in dishonest assistance is 6 years. For limitation purposes a distinction is to be made between two kinds of constructive trustees: those who are fiduciaries and those who are non-fiduciaries. The distinction between the two classes was made clear in the judgment of Lord Hoffmann: ‘First, there are persons who, without any express trust, have assumed fiduciary obligations in relation to the trust property; for example as purchaser on behalf of another, trustee de son tort, company director or agent holding the property for a trustee. I shall call them fiduciaries. They are treated in the same way as express trustees and no limitation period applies to their fraudulent breaches of trust. Then there are strangers to the trust who have not assumed any prior fiduciary liability but make themselves liable by dishonest acts of interference. I shall call them non-fiduciaries. They are also called constructive trustees but this, as Ungoed-Thomas J said in Selangor United Rubber Estates Ltd v Cradock (No 3) [1968] 1 WLR 1555, p1582 is a fiction: ‘nothing more than a formula for equitable relief’. They are not constructive trustees within the meaning of the law of limitation.’
This case cites:

  • Cited – Soar -v- Ashwell CA ([1893] 2 QB 390)
    Trustees under a will had entrusted the trust fund to a solicitor for investment. The solicitor exercised all of their administrative and investment powers for them and distributed part of the fund invested to the beneficiaries under the will but . .

This case is cited by:

  • Highly Persuasive – Williams -v- Central Bank of Nigeria QBD (Bailii, [2011] EWHC 876 (QB))
    The claimant had been defrauded by a customer of the defendant bank. He brought a claim against the bank, saying that they knew or ought to have known of the fraudster’s activities, and were liable. The Bank denied that the UK courts had . .
  • Cited – Williams -v- Central Bank of Nigeria SC (Bailii, [2014] UKSC 10, 16 ITELR 740, [2014] WLR(D) 88, [2014] 2 All ER 489, [2014] 2 WLR 355, [2014] WTLR 873, WLRD, Bailii Summary, UKSC 2012/0113, SC Summary, SC)
    The appellant sought to make the bank liable for a fraud committed by the Bank’s customer, the appellant saying that the Bank knew or ought to have known of the fraud. The court was asked whether a party liable only as a dishonest assistant was a . .