Target Holdings Ltd v Redferns (A Firm) and Another: HL 21 Jul 1995

The defendant solicitors had acted for a purchaser, Crowngate, which had agreed to buy a property from a company called Mirage for andpound;775,000. Crowngate had arranged however that the property would first be passed through a chain of two intermediate purchaser companies, Panther and Kohli, with Kohli then selling to Crowngate at a stated price of andpound;2,000,000. Crowngate applied to Target for a loan to fund the purchase from Kohli based on this higher sale price, supported by a valuation of the property at andpound;2m. The solicitors also acted for Target and were aware of the chain arrangement that inflated the purchase price, but did not disclose it to Target which agreed to lend andpound;1.7m on the security of the property, of which about andpound;1.5m was to fund the price payable to Kohli.
The solicitors received the andpound;1.5m on 28 June 1989. The following day they paid most of it to Panther (not Kohli) and on 30 June Panther used part of those funds to complete its purchase from Mirage at the agreed price of andpound;775,000.
Held: A solicitor, when he receives the money, does so as agent of the lending institution and holds it as bare trustee for the lending institution. Such a trustee acting in breach of trust is liable only for damages flowing from the breach itself. Trustees are not liable for a beneficiary’s loss if that loss is not a consequence of the breach. Damages payable for money paid out in breach of trust may be reduced by inevitable losses which would have run in any event.
Lord Browne-Wilkinson held the basic rule to be: ‘that a trustee in breach of trust must restore or pay to the trust estate either the assets which have been lost to the estate by reason of the breach or compensation for such loss. Courts of Equity did not award damages but, acting in personam, ordered the defaulting trustee to restore the trust estate. If specific restitution of the trust property is not possible, then the liability of the trustee is to pay sufficient compensation to the trust estate to put it back to what it would have been had the breach not been committed.’ and ‘Equitable compensation for breach of trust is designed to achieve exactly what the word compensation suggests: to make good a loss in fact suffered by the beneficiaries and which, using hindsight and common sense, can be seen to have been caused by the breach.’

Lord Browne-Wilkinson
Gazette 06-Sep-1995, Times 21-Jul-1995, Independent 10-Aug-1995, [1996] 1 AC 421, [1995] UKHL 10, [1995] 3 All ER 785
England and Wales
Appeal FromTarget Holdings Ltd v Redferns and Another CA 24-Nov-1993
Solicitors were liable to mortgagees for mortgage monies which had been out by them paid in advance of the completion of the purchase which would allow the mortgagee’s loan to be charged. The basic liability of a trustee in breach of trust was not . .

Cited by:
CitedHulbert and Others v Avens and Another ChD 30-Jan-2003
The claimant sought damages for breach of trust against the defendant solicitors, who had acted as trustees under deeds of trust. They claimed for losses incurred by way of penalties for the late payment of capital gains tax. The defendants said . .
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 . .
CitedRegina v Preddy; Regina v Slade; Regina v Dhillon (Conjoined Appeals) HL 10-Jul-1996
The appellants were said to have made false mortgage applications. They appealed convictions for dishonestly obtaining property by deception.
Held: A chose in action created by an electronic bank transfer was not property which was capable of . .
CitedDon King Productions Inc v Warren and Others ChD 13-Apr-1998
Where partnership terms required benefit of all contracts to be assigned to the partnership, this included unassignable personal contracts which were to be held in trust for partnership, unless stated otherwise.
Lightman J said: ‘The existence . .
CitedBarbados Trust Company Ltd v Bank of Zambia and Another CA 27-Feb-2007
The creditor had assigned the debt, but without first giving the debtor defendant the necessary notice. A challenge was made to the ability of the assignee to bring the action, saying that the deed of trust appointed to circumvent the reluctance of . .
CitedBarbados Trust Company Ltd v Bank of Zambia and Another CA 27-Feb-2007
The creditor had assigned the debt, but without first giving the debtor defendant the necessary notice. A challenge was made to the ability of the assignee to bring the action, saying that the deed of trust appointed to circumvent the reluctance of . .
CitedHarris v Kent and Another ChD 14-Mar-2007
The claimant said the defendant had failed to complete his promise to arrange for the issue of shares in a company in return for a loan. The defendant denied the contract.
Held: It had been agreed to treat the claimant as a fifty per cent . .
CitedLloyds TSB Bank Plc v Markandan and Uddin (A Firm) ChD 14-Oct-2010
The claimant sought damages saying that the defendant firm of solicitors had failed to deal properly with a conveyance having paid across the mortgage funds to a non-existent firm of solicitors and without obtaining the appropriate documents at all. . .
CitedCook v The Mortgage Business Plc CA 24-Jan-2012
The land owners sought relief from possession orders made under mortgages given in equity release schemes: ‘If the purchaser raises all or part of the purchase price on mortgage, and then defaults, the issue arises whether the mortgagee’s right to . .
CitedAIB Group (UK) Plc v Mark Redler and Co Solicitors CA 8-Feb-2013
The defendant firm of solicitors had acted for the claimants under instructions to secure a first charge over the secured property. They failed to secure the discharge of the existing first charge, causing losses. AIB asserted breach of trust.
CitedAIB Group (UK) Plc v Mark Redler and Co Solicitors SC 5-Nov-2014
Bank not to recover more than its losses
The court was asked as to the remedy available to the appellant bank against the respondent, a firm of solicitors, for breach of the solicitors’ custodial duties in respect of money entrusted to them for the purpose of completing a loan which was to . .
See AlsoTarget Holdings Limited v Redferns (a Firm) Alexander Stevens and Company Limited (T/a Alexander Stevens Druce) CA 16-Oct-1998
. .
CitedPurrunsing v A’Court and Co (A Firm) and Another ChD 14-Apr-2016
The claimant had paid money for a property, but the seller was a fraudster and no money or title was recovered. The claimant sued both his conveyancers and the solicitors who had acted for the fraudster, in each case innocently. The defendants each . .
CitedRevenue and Customs v Joint Administrators of Lehman Brothers International (Europe) SC 13-Mar-2019
The Court was asked whether interest payable under rule 14.23(7) of the Insolvency Rules 2016 is ‘yearly interest’ within the meaning of section 874 of the Income Tax Act 2007. If so, the administrators must deduct income tax before paying interest . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions, Trusts, Damages

Updated: 17 January 2022; Ref: scu.89715