Introduction

In our previous article on Philipp v Barclays Bank, we elucidated how the Supreme Court, in this landmark ruling, clarified the Quincecare duty's scope, reinstating its original purpose to safeguard customers in agent-involved transactions, excluding cases where customers directly instruct banks. We also briefly discussed Mrs. Philip's alternative claim regarding the bank's alleged delay in attempting to retrieve payments.

In the recent ruling by Master Brown in CCP Graduate School Ltd v National Westminster Bank PLC & Anor [2024] EWHC 581 (KB), the court revisits the issue of receiving banks' liability, particularly exploring the novel concept of a 'retrieval duty'.

Brief facts

CCP, a NatWest customer, alleged that they were deceived by a fraudster between 13 September and 12 October 2016, resulting in fifteen payments totalling £415,909.67 from its NatWest account to a Santander account controlled by the fraudsters. CCP's director provided payment instructions to NatWest. The fraudsters depleted the funds upon receipt, with only £14,000 recovered.

CCP brought proceedings against NatWest (the sending bank) and Santander (the receiving bank), alleging:

  1. NatWest breached its Quincecare duty
  2. Santander breached its duty of reasonable care by permitting transferred sums to be withdrawn and its account to be used for fraud.

NatWest and Santander sought summary dismissal of the claims. CCP argued that if a retrieval duty could apply to the sending bank in an APP fraud, it should also apply to the receiving bank, given its involvement.

Following the issuance of the applications but before its hearing, the Supreme Court rendered its verdict in Philipp v Barclays Bank UK plc clarifying the scope of the Quincecare duty. CCP therefore cross-applied for permission to amend its claim responding to the banks' applications and alleging both the banks had breached their 'retrieval duty'.

Decision

Master Brown found that CCP's amendment, particularly against NatWest, introduced a new claim beyond the limitation period and was not based on identical or similar facts as the existing claim. Consequently, the Court lacked authority under CPR 17.4 to permit the amendment, resulting in its dismissal.  Similarly, in relation to CCP's amendment against Santander, the Court held that the same analysis in relation to limitation applied.

However, the Court declined to strike out CCP’s argument of a 'retrieval duty' citing that it had already been previously pleaded (and the amendment merely corrected the defects) and that there remained uncertainty regarding such duty's applicability to banks involved in fraudulent activities.

Comment

This case underscores the uncertainty surrounding the novel 'retrieval duty,' (despite Philipp providing clarity on the Quincecare duty).  It remains to be seen how the court will define its scope at the full trial and whether it will provide a viable avenue for victims to recover funds, particularly concerning receiving banks as APP fraud continues to rise.

Our disputes team regularly handles cases involving APP Fraud victims. We also have a mini podcast series discussing evolving court decisions on banks' Quincecare duty.