The plaintiff was party to a fraudulent scheme under which a cheque had been made payable to him. The plaintiff’s signature endorsing the cheque to a third party was forged and in reliance on the forgery the bank credited the third party. The plaintiff sued the bank for conversion. In defence the bank relied on the maxim ex turpi causa non oritur actio.
Held: Hutchison J said that the maxim: ‘involved the court looking at the quality of the illegality relied on by the defendant and all the surrounding circumstances, without fine distinctions, and seeking to answer two questions: first, whether there had been illegality of which the court should take notice and, second, whether in all the circumstances it would be an affront to the public conscience if by affording him the relief sought the court was seen to be indirectly assisting or encouraging the plaintiff in his criminal act’.
 1 All ER 676
Cited – Vellino v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police CA 31-Jul-2001
The police were not under any duty to protect someone who had been arrested from injuring himself in an attempt to escape. The claimant had a history of seeking to avoid capture by jumping from his flat window. On this occasion he injured himself in . .
Cited – Moore Stephens (A Firm) v Stone Rolls Ltd (in liquidation) HL 30-Jul-2009
The appellants had audited the books of the respondent company, but had failed to identify substantial frauds by an employee of the respondent. The auditors appealed a finding of professional negligence, relying on the maxim ex turpi causa non . .
Cited – Merseyside Police v Owens Admn 31-May-2012
The police had refused to returns items seized from Mr Owens on the basis that to do so would indirectly encourage and assist him in suspected criminal activity. CCTV footage had been removed from him to attempt identify an arsonist of a house.The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 14 May 2022; Ref: scu.248026