Royal Brunei Airlines SDN BHD v Tan: PC 24 May 1995

(Brunei) The defendants were a one-man company, BLT, and the one man, Mr Tan. A dishonest third party to a breach of trust was liable to make good a resulting loss even though he had received no trust property. The test of knowledge was an objective one: ”knowingly’ was better avoided as a defining ingredient of the liability, and that in that context the Baden categorisation was best forgotten. Although my own view is that the categorisation is often helpful in identifying different states of knowledge which may or may not result in a finding of dishonesty for the purposes of knowing assistance, I have grave doubts about its utility in cases of knowing receipt.’ and ‘Recipient liability is restitution-based; accessory liability is not’.
Lord Nicholls summarised the ingredients of liability for dishonest assistance: ‘Drawing the threads together, their Lordships’ overall conclusion is that dishonesty is a necessary ingredient of accessory liability. It is also a sufficient ingredient. A liability in equity to make good resulting loss attaches to a person who dishonestly procures or assists in a breach of trust or fiduciary obligation. It is not necessary that, in addition, the trustee or fiduciary was acting dishonestly, although this will usually be so where the third party who is assisting him is acting dishonestly. ‘Knowingly’ is better avoided as a defining ingredient of the principle, and in the context of this principle the Baden scale of knowledge is best forgotten.’


Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Nicholls


Independent 22-Jun-1995, [1995] 2 AC 378, [1995] UKPC 4, [1995] 3 All ER 97, [1995] UKPC 22


Bailii, Bailii


England and Wales


CitedBelmont Finance Corporation Ltd v Williams Furniture Ltd (No 2) 1980
It had been alleged that there had been a conspiracy involving the company giving unlawful financial assistance for the purchase of its own shares.
Held: Dishonesty is not a necessary ingredient of liability in an allegation of a ‘knowing . .
CitedIn re Montagu’s Settlement Trusts 1987
In the context of knowing receipt, a categorisation of knowledge is used to determine whether a person is bound by notice.
Sir Robert Megarry V-C said: ‘The cold calculus of constructive and imputed notice does not seem to me to be an . .
CitedBarnes v Addy 1874
A stranger to a trust can be liable in equity for assisting in a breach of trust, even though he received no trust property.
Lord Selborne said: ‘Now in this case we have to deal with certain persons who are trustees, and with certain other . .

Cited by:

CitedTwinsectra Ltd v Yardley and Others HL 21-Mar-2002
Solicitors acted in a loan, giving an undertaking as to its application. In breach of that undertaking they released it to the borrower. The appellants appealed a finding of liability as contributors to the breach.
Held: ‘Money in a . .
CitedDubai Aluminium Company Limited v Salaam and Others HL 5-Dec-2002
Partners Liable for Dishonest Act of Solicitor
A solicitor had been alleged to have acted dishonestly, having assisted in a fraudulent breach of trust by drafting certain documents. Contributions to the damages were sought from his partners.
Held: The acts complained of were so close to . .
AppliedBank of Credit and Commerce International (Overseas) Ltd and Another v Akindele ChD 1999
Chief Akindele agreed in 1985 with ICIC Overseas to invest US$10m in the purchase of 250,000 shares of BCCI Holdings, and to hold the shares for two years. If he wanted to sell the shares after the expiry of two years and up to five years from the . .
Disapproved in partBank of Credit and Commerce International (Overseas) Ltd and Another v Akindele CA 22-Jun-2000
The test of whether a person who received funds held them on constructive trust, was not whether he himself was dishonest, but rather whether he had knowledge of circumstances which made it unconscionable to hold on to the money received. In respect . .
CitedHarrison v Teton Valley Trading Co; Harrison’s Trade Mark Application (CHINAWHITE) CA 27-Jul-2004
The applicant had been an employee of the objector at their nightclub ‘Chinawhite’ and whose principal attraction was a cocktail of the same name. Employees signed a confidentiality agreement as to the recipe. Having left the employment, the . .
CitedUltraframe (UK) Ltd v Fielding and others ChD 27-Jul-2005
The parties had engaged in a bitter 95 day trial in which allegations of forgery, theft, false accounting, blackmail and arson. A company owning patents and other rights had become insolvent, and the real concern was the destination and ownership of . .
CitedBarlow Clowes International Ltd and Another v Eurotrust International Ltd and others PC 10-Oct-2005
(Court of Appeal of the Isle of Man) Defendants appealed a finding of dishonest assistance in the activities of Barlow Clowes.
Held: The judge had been able to reach the conclusions on the basis of the evidence. The appeal of the deemster . .
CitedAbouRahmah and Another v Abacha and others QBD 28-Nov-2005
Claims were made as to an alleged fraud by some of the respondents. . .
CitedBritish Telecommunications Plc; Virgin Enterprises Ltd; J Sainsbury Plc; Marks and Spencer Plc and Ladbroke Group Plc v One In a Million Ltd and others CA 23-Jul-1998
Registration of a distinctive Internet domain name using registered trade marks and company names could be an infringement of a registered Trade Mark, and also passing off. It was proper to grant quia timet injunctions where necessary to stop . .
CitedCharter Plc and Another v City Index Ltd and others ChD 12-Oct-2006
An employee of the claimant had fraudulently spent several million pounds of the claimant’s money on personal bets through the defendant company. The claimant said that the defendants knew the origin of the funds and were liable to repay them. . .
CitedCriterion Properties plc v Stratford UK Properties LLC and others HL 17-Jun-2004
The parties presented their claim before the House, but the House found that it was to be argued differently. The new arguments had not been pursued or prepared before the case came to the House, and it was remitted to the lower courts for the issue . .
CitedRoberts v Gill and Co Solicitors and Others SC 19-May-2010
The claimant beneficiary in the estate sought damages against solicitors who had acted for the claimant’s brother, the administrator, saying they had allowed him to take control of the assets in the estate. The will provided that property was to be . .
CitedLaw Society of England and Wales v Isaac and Isaac International Holdings Ltd and Others ChD 7-Jul-2010
. .
CitedVestergaard Frandsen A/S and Others v Bestnet Europe Ltd and Others SC 22-May-2013
The claimant companies appealed against a reversal of their judgment against a former employee that she had misused their confidential trade secrets after leaving their employment. The companies manufactured and supplied bednets designed to prevent . .
CitedWilliams v Central Bank of Nigeria QBD 8-Apr-2011
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 . .
CitedWilliams v Central Bank of Nigeria SC 19-Feb-2014
Bank not liable for fraud of customer
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 . .
CitedJetivia Sa and Another v Bilta (UK) Ltd and Others SC 22-Apr-2015
The liquidators of Bilta had brought proceedings against former directors and the appellant alleging that they were party to an unlawful means conspiracy which had damaged the company by engaging in a carousel fraud with carbon credits. On the . .
ApprovedIvey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd (T/A Crockfords) SC 25-Oct-2017
The claimant gambler sought payment of his winnings. The casino said that he had operated a system called edge-sorting to achieve the winnings, and that this was a form of cheating so as to excuse their payment. The system exploited tiny variances . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Trusts, Commonwealth

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.88893