Undue Influence in UK Law
National Westminster Bank Plc v Morgan
In my judgment, therefore, the Court of Appeal erred in law in holding that the presumption of undue influence can arise from the evidence of the relationship of the parties without also evidence that the transaction itself was wrongful in that it constituted an advantage taken of the person subjected to the influence which, failing proof to the contrary, was explicable only on the basis that undue influence had been exercised to procure it.
Royal Bank of Scotland Plc v Etridge (No 2); Kenyon-Brown v Desmond Banks & Company (Undue Influence) (No 2); Bank of Scotland v Bennett; UCB Home Loans Corporation Ltd v Moore; National Westminster Bank Plc v Gill; Midland Bank Plc v Wallace; Barclays Bank Plc v Harris; Barclays Bank Plc v Coleman
Proof that the complainant placed trust and confidence in the other party in relation to the management of the complainant's financial affairs, coupled with a transaction which calls for explanation, will normally be sufficient, failing satisfactory evidence to the contrary, to discharge the burden of proof. On proof of these two matters the stage is set for the court to infer that, in the absence of a satisfactory explanation, the transaction can only have been procured by undue influence.
Proof that the complainant received advice from a third party before entering into the impugned transaction is one of the matters a court takes into account when weighing all the evidence. But a person may understand fully the implications of a proposed transaction, for instance, a substantial gift, and yet still be acting under the undue influence of another.
They include cases of coercion, domination, victimisation and all the insidious techniques of persuasion. At the end of the day, after trial, there will either be proof of undue influence or that proof will fail and it will be found that there was no undue influence. In the former case, whatever the relationship of the parties and however the influence was exerted, there will be found to have been an actual case of undue influence.
Barclays Bank Plc v O'Brien
In particular, if the party asserting that he takes free of the earlier rights of another knows of certain facts which put him on inquiry as to the possible existence of the rights of that other and he fails to make such inquiry or take such other steps as are reasonable to verify whether such earlier right does or does not exist, he will have constructive notice of the earlier right and take subject to it.
CIBC Mortgages Plc v Pitt and Another
I should add that the exact limits of the decision in Morgan may have to be considered in the future.
Bank of Credit and Commerce International SA v Aboody
What notice will be requisite will depend upon the nature of the undue influence alleged. Thus, in a Class 1 case (actual undue influence), the creditor must have notice of the circumstances alleged to constitute the actual exercise of the undue influence; In a Class 2 case it must have notice of the circumstances from which the presumption of undue influence is alleged to arise.
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