On appeal from: [2016] EWCA Civ 457.

Appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision that the respondent bank did not owe a duty of care to the first appellant, an undisclosed principal, in respect of a negligent misstatement – a credit reference.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. Voluntary assumption of responsibility remains the foundation of this area of law. The liability of a contracting party to an undisclosed principal is a legal, as opposed to factual, construct. It creates contractual relations between parties who do not have a factual relationship with each other. Such a relationship is not necessarily proximate and lacks the element of mutual consent required to give rise to an assumption of responsibility. The respondent had no reason to suppose that the third appellant was acting for someone else, and they knew nothing of the first appellant. It is plain that they did not voluntarily assume any responsibility to it.

For judgment, please download: [2018] UKSC 43
For Court’s Press Summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (24 Apr 2018 morning session) (24 Apr 2018 afternoon session)