Deceit - The Lie of the Law
TOWARDS A RESTATEMENT OF THE TORT OF DECEIT
The tort of deceit has been enshrined as part of the common law since the decision in 1789 of the Court of King’s Bench in Pasley v. Freeman,1 having been clarified by the House of Lords in Derry v. Peek,2 a century later in 1889. It is the type of tort with which every common lawyer feels familiar, representing an exemplar of the common law’s ability to administer civil law remedies for wrongs done by cheats and fraudsters. The danger confronting and exerted by the tort is that the law of deceit, as currently formulated, may be applied inflexibly and to penal effect, without the court taking the opportunity to consider the moral basis of such legal liability, the fact that alternative causes of action may now exist for a representee, and the appropriateness of the penal remedies to the seriousness of the wrong being examined.