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The Northampton Regional Livestock Centre v Cowling & Lawrence

Citation[2014] EWHC 30 (QB) (23 January 2014)

David Lewis appeared in this 3 week High Court trial. The case concerned the fiduciary and tortious duties of agents acting for both the vendor and purchaser in commercial property transactions, and the potential conflicts of duty that this presents. The key for agents is disclosure and consent. As Mr Justice Green put it: “sunlight bleaches”.

Of potentially wider application was Mr Justice Green’s finding that the claim for vicarious liability against the co-partner (the first defendant) failed because the actives of the second defendant were sufficiently divorced from the ordinary course of business of the partnership to conclude that it was not in the ordinary course of business - applying S10 of the Partnership Act 1890 through the “prism of fairness and equity” introduced by Lord Nicholls in Dubai Aluminium. This was in spite of a finding that there was partial disclosure to the remaining partner – who was also a director of the vendor – and no fraud.

For further information, please refer to the judgment in The Northampton Regional Livestock Centre Co Ltd v Cowling & Lawrence [2015] EWCA Civ 651, [2014] EWHC 30 (QB) (23 January 2014)