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Finding of Civil Fraud in Commercial Property Case

The High Court (Queen’s Bench Division) has handed down judgment in Choi v Park & Park [2019] EWHC 3191 (QB). Robin Kingham represented the claimant in a four-day trial before Margaret Obi (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge).

The claim arose out of an agreement between the parties to assign a lease of commercial premises. Specifically, the claimant alleged that the first defendant had entered into a protracted exercise to deliberately conceal a number of key terms of the lease, including the fact that the first defendant was contractually prevented from assigning the lease without freeholder consent. The claim was brought against the first defendant on the basis of fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, total failure of consideration, and quantum meruit. The claim was also brought jointly against the second defendant on the basis of an alleged unlawful means conspiracy with the first defendant.

The Court upheld the claim against the first defendant on the basis of fraudulent misrepresentation, finding that it was not necessary on the facts to consider the other heads of claim. The conspiracy alleged in respect of the second defendant was dismissed.

The case ‘fell to be decided almost exclusively on the facts; very few issues of law were involved’ (at [36]). However, the Court’s concise summary of the legal test for unlawful means conspiracy (at [39] – [40]) may prove helpful to practitioners in this area.