Tai Hing Ltd v Liu Chong Hing Bank: PC 1985

(Hong Kong) The relationship between banker and customer is principally a contractual one between debtor and creditor. As between the banker and his customer, the risk of loss through forgery of the customer’s signature falls on the banker unless negligence or other disentitling conduct of the customer precludes the customer’s claim. No wider duty should be imposed on the customer beyond a duty not to act in a way that facilitates forgery and to make the bank aware of any known forgeries occurred: ‘The business of banking is the business not of the customer but of the bank. They offer a service, which is to honour their customer’s cheques when drawn upon an account in credit or within an agreed overdraft limit. If they pay out upon cheques which are not his, they are acting outside their mandate and cannot plead his authority in justification of their debit to his account. This is a risk of the service which it is their business to offer.’
The Board considered the need for the Board to follow earlier decisions of the House of Lords: ‘It was suggested, though only faintly, that even if English courts are bound to follow the decision in Macmillan’s case the Judicial Committee is not so constrained. This is a misapprehension. Once it is accepted, as in this case it is, that the applicable law is English, their Lordships of the Judicial Committee will follow a House of Lords’ decision which covers the point in issue. The Judicial Committee is not the final judicial authority for the determination of English law. That is the responsibility of the House of Lords in its judicial capacity. Though the Judicial Committee enjoys a greater freedom from the binding effect of precedent than does the House of Lords, it is in no position on a question of English law to invoke the Practice Statement (Judicial Precedent) [1966] 1 WLR 1234 of July 1966 pursuant to which the House has assumed the power to depart in certain circumstances from a previous decision of the House. And their Lordships note, in passing, the Statement’s warning against the danger from a House of Lords’ decision in a case where, by reason of custom, statute, or for other reasons peculiar to the jurisdiction where the matter in dispute arose, the Judicial Committee is required to determine whether English law should or should not apply. Only if it be decided or accepted (as in this case) that English law is the law to be applied will the Judicial Committee consider itself bound to follow a House of Lords’ decision.’

Lord Scarman
[1985] 2 All ER 947, [1985] 2 Lloyds Rep 313, [1985] 3 WLR 317, [1986] AC 80, [1985] UKPC 22
England and Wales
CitedLiverpool City Council v Irwin HL 31-Mar-1976
The House found it to be an implied term of a tenancy agreement that the lessor was to be responsible for repairing and lighting the common parts of the building of which the premises formed part. In analysing the different types of contract case in . .

Cited by:
CitedYorkshire Bank plc v Lloyds Bank plc CA 12-May-1999
A customer of the plaintiff, sent a cheque to the defendant, with an application for shares. The cheque was stolen whilst in the defendant’s custody, but the plaintiff at first debited the account, then re-credited the balance. The claim failed . .
CitedSandra Estelle Fielding v The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc CA 11-Feb-2004
The husband and wife had signed a bank mandate allowing the bank to act upon the authorisation of either of them. The wife complained that the bank should not be able to recover from her any sums expended by the husband.
Held: The mandate . .
CitedJames, Regina v; Regina v Karimi CACD 25-Jan-2006
The defendants appealed their convictions for murder, saying that the court had not properly guided the jury on provocation. The court was faced with apparently conflicting decision of the House of Lords (Smith) and the Privy Council (Holley).
CitedDonington Park Leisure Ltd v Wheatcroft and Son Ltd ChD 7-Apr-2006
Leave to apply was pursued under the provisions of a Tomlin order. The parties had disputed the extent to which parts of the order should be exhibited to the court.
Held: The Tomlin order should be amended to add terms necessary to give effect . .
CitedBlackpool and Fylde Aero Club Ltd v Blackpool Borough Council CA 25-May-1990
The club had enjoyed a concession from the council to operate pleasure flights from the airport operated by the council. They were invited to bid for a new concession subject to strict tender rules. They submitted the highest bid on time, but the . .
See AlsoTai Hing Cotton Mill Ltd v Liu Chong Hing Bank Ltd PC 5-Feb-1986
(Hong Kong) The Boad considered the costs payable for counsel on an appeal to the Board from Hong Kong . .
CitedWillers v Joyce and Another (Re: Gubay (Deceased) No 2) SC 20-Jul-2016
The Court was asked whether and in what circumstances a lower court may follow a decision of the Privy Council which has reached a different conclusion from that of the House of Lords (or the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal) on an earlier occasion. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Constitutional, Banking

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.238119