Court Of Appeal Finds Quincecare Duty Is Not Limited To Corporate Customers And Can (In Principle) Extend To Protecting Individuals

Published date23 March 2022
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Criminal Law, Trials & Appeals & Compensation, White Collar Crime, Anti-Corruption & Fraud
Law FirmHerbert Smith Freehills
AuthorMr Simon Bushell, Ceri Morgan and Nihar Lovell

This week, the Court of Appeal handed down an important judgment considering the scope of the so-called Quincecare duty: Philipp v Barclays Bank UK plc [2022] EWCA Civ 318.

Historically, the Quincecare duty has arisen where a bank receives a payment instruction from an authorised signatory of its customer, and executes the order, in circumstances where (allegedly) there were red flags to suggest that the order was an attempt to misappropriate the funds of the customer.

The factual circumstances of the major cases in which the duty has been considered have all involved instructions made by an authorised signatory (acting fraudulently) on behalf of a company or firm. In particular, this was the factual scenario in Barclays Bank v Quincecare [1992] 4 All ER 363 itself, and it was also the factual basis for the only case to date in which the duty has been found to have been owed and breached, Singularis Holdings v Daiwa Capital Markets [2019] UKSC 50 (see our blog post).

However, in the present case the Court of Appeal found, as a point of law, that the Quincecare duty is not limited to the situation where instructions have been given by an agent/authorised signatory on behalf of the customer of the bank. This means the duty is not limited to protecting corporate customers and can, in principle, extend to protecting individuals.

While recognising previous statements in the authorities as to the purpose of the Quincecare duty, the Court of Appeal focused instead on the reasoning behind the duty given in those cases. Crucially, the Court of Appeal found that the line of reasoning in the authorities: (a) did not depend on whether the instruction was being given by an agent of the customer; (b) was not limited to the factual circumstances of those cases; and (c) could properly be applied on a wider basis.

Turning to the facts of the present claim, the proceedings were brought by the victim of an authorised push payment (APP) fraud, who was deceived by a fraudster to instruct the bank to transfer money from her account and pay into an account controlled by the fraudster. The Court of Appeal held that, whether or not the Quincecare duty arose in these circumstances was a question to be determined at trial, but confirmed that this was at least possible in principle. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal held that summary judgment granted by the High Court in favour of the bank was wrongly entered and should be set aside.

Notwithstanding the Court of Appeal's analysis in this case, its conclusions on the parameters of the Quincecare duty appear to extend the application of the duty beyond the strict boundaries established in previous authorities. Without the need for the agency relationship described above, there is a risk that the Quincecare duty could now (in principle) apply to a wider range of payment processing scenarios, with repercussions outside of the APP fraud context at the centre of this dispute.

We consider the decision in further detail below.


The background to this decision is more fully set out in our blog post on the High Court's decision, here.

In summary, the claimant was the victim of an APP fraud. As part of an elaborate deception by a third-party fraudster, the...

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