In Lazarus Estates Ltd v Beasley [19561 Q.B. 702 (CA) Denning L.J famously stated that “fraud unravels everything”. Lazarus v Beasley.

Fraud unravels everything - Lazarus Estates Ltd v Beasley - Lazarus v Beasley. Denning LJ judgment.  Lord Justice Denning.

No Court in this land will allow a person to keep an advantage which he has obtained by fraud, No judgment of a Court, no Order of a Minister, can be allowed to stand if it has been obtained by fraud, fraud unravels everything. The Court is careful not to find fraud unless it is distinctly pleaded and proved; but once it is proved it vitiates judgments, contracts and all transactions whatsoever: See as to deeds Collins v. Blantern (1767) 1 Smith’s Leading Cases, page 406, as to judgments, The Duchess of Kingston’s, case (1776) 2 Smith’s Leading Cases, pages 646, 651, and as to contracts Master v. Miller (1791) 1 Smith’s Leading Cases, pages 780, 799.”

No doubt it can be said that the real question in any case is whether repairs to the value specified have in fact been done, and that proof of fraud in the making of the declaration is merely proof of the quality of the act or its motive. Nevertheless that quality, if proved, vitiates all transactions known to the law of however high a degree of solemnity. Suppose that on an application under paragraph 4 of the Second Schedule the landlord by fraud persuades the Country Court to uphold a declaration and that months later the tenant discovers this and is in a position to prove that fraud. Surely the tenant could refuse to pay the increases in rent, and when such could allege that the decision of the Country Court was obtained by fraud. If that be the true position, why cannot a tenant who has not adopted the procedure of paragraph 4 equally claim that on proof of fraud the declaration is not satisfactory for the purposes of section 231.

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Lazarus Estates Ltd v Beasley [1956] 1 Q.B. 702 (CA) – The full judgment (PDF view only)

Related judgments and information:

In Takhar v Gracefield Developments Ltd & Ors [2019] UKSC 13 the Supreme Court established the legal test to decide whether a Court’s judgment should be set aside where it was obtained as a result of fraud. It was held there was no requirement for the party seeking to set aside the judgment to establish that evidence the fraud could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence prior to the earlier trial.

Firman v Ellis [1978] 3 WLR 1 – a void order originates from either a fundamental mistake or defect to proceedings or by violation of the rules of natural justice.

In Craig v Kanssen [1943] 1 KB 256 it was held that a person who is affected by an order which can properly be described as a nullity, is entitled ex debito justitiae to have it set aside.

Read our piers de resistance guide on establishing a motion to set aside an order for fraud, irregularity, fraud or miscarriage of justice. Is it void or voidable?

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