Fraud Claims – damages for injury and distress?

Fraud Claims - damages for injury and distress?

Occasionally, claims for fraud or deceit may involve injury or distress rather than the more common claim for financial loss. Although rare, these claims are recognised by common law. Depending on the claimant’s situation, these claims may be just as significant, if not more so, than direct or pecuniary losses.

Physical inconvenience and discomfort

Claims for physical inconvenience and discomfort arising from fraud or deceit are not often made. An early claim of this type was decided in 1970, in the case of, Mafo v Adams. This case involved inconvenience and discomfort caused to the claimant when he and his heavily pregnant wife were induced by a landlord to leave their home by a fraudulent statement that another home would be available. Upon arrival on a cold February night, the property was not available as promised and the plaintiff was forced to seek temporary accommodation with friends. The claimant was awarded damages for inconvenience and discomfort.

While these types of claims are rare, it is important to recognise that any inconvenience suffered following a fraud or deceit could be compensable and should be considered when the claim is being prepared.

Mental distress

Where a fraud has occurred, the victim may also claim damages based on his or her mental distress. The level of damages can be difficult to quantify. Each case will be determined by considering the conduct of the fraudulent party and the distress suffered by the claimant. For this reason, it is important to consider exactly what “mental distress” means. Unlike any dissatisfaction, depression or general unhappiness a claimant may experience following the event, mental distress considers the impact the event or conduct had on the claimant directly at the time. In A v B, the plaintiff was successful in a claim for mental distress after learning that a child whom he believed he was the father of, and for whom he had paid child support for a number of years, was in fact not his. In Archer v Brown, a claimant received an award against a defendant who had induced him into purchasing shares which the defendant did not own, and which led to the plaintiff becoming unemployed, in debt and upset. In both of these cases, the courts considered the gravity of the conduct as well as the consequences for the plaintiff. Damages for mental distress may become aggravated damages if the conduct of the defendant is particularly heinous.

There may be more to your fraud claim than obvious financial losses. Each case should be considered carefully to ensure all valid claims are made. You should seek legal advice if you think you have a fraud claim. You can contact our London commercial litigation solicitors for a confidential discussion about any of the content you see on this website.