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 to pay damages, but to restore to the trust fund that which had been lost to it or to pay compensation to the beneficiary for what he had lost. If a trustee wrongly paid away trust monies to a stranger, there was an immediate loss to the trust fund and the trustee came under an immediate duty to restore the monies to the trust fund. The remedies of equity were sufficiently flexible to require the finance company to give credit for monies received on the subsequent realisation of its security, but otherwise the solicitors’ liability was to pay the whole of the monies wrongly paid away.
Peter Gibson LJ said: ‘The remedy afforded to the beneficiary by equity is compensation in the form of restitution of that which has been lost to the trust estate, not damages. ‘
Ralph Gibson LJ (dissenting) held that it was necessary for the court to examine the nature of the relationship between the parties out of which the solicitors’ equitable duty arose. If, having regard to the relationship and its purpose, the obligations of the parties, its purpose and the obligations of the parties within it, it appeared just to regard the breaches as having caused no loss, because the loss would have happened if there had been no breach, the court should so hold.
Peter Gibson LJ
Independent 03-Dec-1993, Times 24-Nov-1993,  1 WLR 1089
England and Wales
Cited – Nocton v Lord Ashburton HL 19-Jun-1914
The defendant solicitor had persuaded his client to release a charge, thus advancing the solicitor’s own subsequent charge on the same property. The action was started in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The statement of claim alleged fraud . .
Appeal From – 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 . .
Cited – Charter 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. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Legal Professions, Trusts, Equity
Updated: 11 February 2022; Ref: scu.89717