Quartz Hill Consolidated Gold Mining Co v Eyre: CA 26 Jun 1883

The court considered whether an action lay without proof of special damage for maliciously presenting a winding up petition.
Held: There was. Though there was no general cause of action for maliciously bringing civil proceedings without reasonable and probable cause, an action for malicious prosecution could, however, be brought in specific cases. The absence of any reasonable cause or foundation of suspicion may be evidence of malice on the part of a prosecutor.
Brett MR said: ‘It seems to me that an action can be maintained for maliciously procuring an adjudication under the Bankruptcy Act 1869, because by the petition, which is the first process, the credit of the person against whom it is presented is injured before he can shew that the accusation made against him is false; he is injured in his fair fame, even although he does not suffer a pecuniary loss . . he is openly charged with insolvency before he can defend himself. It is not like an action charging a merchant with fraud, where the evil done by bringing the action is remedied at the same time that the mischief is published, namely, at the trial.
The present case, therefore, is reduced to this question, namely, is a petition to wind up a company more like an action charging fraud or more like a bankruptcy petition? In my opinion it is more like a bankruptcy petition, and the very touchstone of this point is that the petition to wind-up is by force of law made public before the company can defend itself against the imputations made against it; for the petitioner is bound to publicly advertise the petition seven days before it is to be heard and adjudicated upon.’
Bowen LJ said that: ‘the very institution of [insolvency] proceedings’ ‘strike home at a man’s credit’. An action for malicious prosecution was available, but ‘No mere bringing of an action, although it is brought maliciously and without reasonable or probable cause, will give rise to an action for malicious prosecution. In no action, at all events in none of the ordinary kind, not even in those based on fraud where there are scandalous allegations in the pleadings, is damage to a man’s fair fame the necessary and natural consequence of bringing the action.’ As to the costs incurred in defending a civil action, he said: ‘The bringing of an ordinary action does not as a natural or necessary consequence involve any injury to a man’s property, for this reason, that the only costs which the law recognises, and for which it will compensate him, are the costs properly incurred in the action itself. For those the successful defendant will have been already compensated, so far as the law chooses to compensate him. If the judge refuses to give him costs, it is because he does not deserve them: if he deserves them, he will get them in the original action: if he does not deserve them, he ought not to get them in a subsequent action. Therefore the broad cannon is true that in the present day, and according to the present law, the bringing of an ordinary action, however maliciously, and however great the want of reasonable and probable cause, will not support a subsequent action for malicious prosecution.’

Bowen LJ, Brett MR
(1883) 11 QBD 674, (1882-1883) 11 QBD 674, [1883] UKLawRpKQB 126
England and Wales
CitedSavill v Roberts CCP 1790
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Cited by:
CitedGibbs and others v Rea PC 29-Jan-1998
(Cayman Islands) The respondent worked for a bank. He disclosed a business interest, but that interest grew in importance to the point where he resigned in circumstances amounting to constructive dismissal. His home and business officers were raided . .
CitedWatkins v Secretary of State for The Home Departmentand others CA 20-Jul-2004
The claimant complained that prison officers had abused the system of reading his solicitor’s correspondence whilst he was in prison. The defendant argued that there was no proof of damage.
Held: Proof of damage was not necessary in the tort . .
CitedMohammed Amin v Jogendra Kumar Bannerjee PC 1947
The Board considered an action for malicious prosecution. Sir John Beaumont said: ‘The foundation of the action lies in abuse of the process of the court by wrongfully setting the law in motion, and it is designed to discourage the perversion of the . .
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 . .
CitedLand Securities Plc and Others v Fladgate Fielder (A Firm) CA 18-Dec-2009
The claimants wanted planning permission to redevelop land. The defendant firm of solicitors, their tenants, had challenged the planning permission. The claimants alleged that that opposition was a tortious abuse because its true purpose was to . .
CitedGregory v Portsmouth City Council HL 10-Feb-2000
Disciplinary proceedings had been taken by the local authority against Mr Gregory, a council member, after allegations had been made that he had failed to declare conflicts of interest, and that he had used confidential information to secure a . .
CitedCrawford Adjusters and Others v Sagicor General Insurance (Cayman) Ltd and Another PC 13-Jun-2013
(Cayman Islands) A hurricane had damaged property insured by the respondent company. The company employed the appellant as loss adjustor, but came to suspect advance payments recommended by him, and eventually claimed damages for deceit and . .
CitedWilliamson v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago PC 3-Sep-2014
(Trinidad and Tobago) The claimant had been held after arrest on suspicion of theft. He was held for several months before the case was dismissed, the posecution having made no apparent attempt to further the prosecution. He appealed against refusal . .
CitedWillers v Joyce and Another (Re: Gubay (Deceased) No 1) SC 20-Jul-2016
Parties had been involved in an action for wrongful trading. This was not persisted with but the claimant sought damages saying that the action was only part of a campaign to do him harm. This appeal raised the question whether the tort of malicious . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Insolvency

Updated: 18 January 2022; Ref: scu.184705