It is often said that fraud cuts across everything and it certainly assists when advising a client who has an old claim which likely to be time barred if one can establish fraud.

Fraud is a very wide term and covers not simply criminal activity but also civil and equitable fraud, the latter being based upon express or implied trust or some form of unconscionable conduct).

Apart from negating time bars, a fraud allegation can also be used to lift the corporate veil to get to directors and even shareholders.  Further, the measure of damages can be greater, the Court’s approach to damages assessment and loss being far more generous.

Sometimes one needs to plead a form of fraud (such as fraudulent or grossly negligent misrepresentation) to overcome a contractual clause seeking to limit or exclude a part’s liability or to overcome an entire contract clause.

All that may appear very exciting but a warning is necessary; there are further hurdles to be overcome.

First, fraud has to be pleaded in great detail and be very focused indeed.  That inevitably takes time and costs money.  There are specific rules of pleading in the Civil Procedure Rules.

Secondly, the Bar Council rules and the Solicitors Code of Conduct make it critical for the lawyers to evaluate the evidence very carefully indeed because lawyers must not plead fraud in the absence of strong evidence.  Often a lot depends on inference.  To plead the case without such evidence can lead to the legal team being exposed to risk of disciplinary action.

Thirdly, it is often said that a plea of fraud will escalate the temperature of the litigation and it should be borne in mind that these days copies of  Court pleading can be obtained by third parties unless the Court imposes some restriction on access.

Fourthly, the burden of proof is considered to be higher in the case of a plea of fraud.

At GSC we do not shirk away from advising a client to plead fraud if we consider there is evidence of such conduct and the proposed defendant had the requisite knowledge whether actual knowledge or by showing such a disregard for making appropriate enquiries as to be reckless.

Michael’s excellent legal knowledge, guidance and professionalism enabled a successful defence. He is a straight talker, getting to the heart of the issues quickly. Tactically astute with excellent negotiation skills. I would highly recommend Michael in any Commercial litigation.

Michael Shapiro is concise in his advice and adopts a pragmatic approach to challenges delivering realistic and enterprising solutions which produce results.

Michael is our first call whenever we need any legal advice. Straight talking, commercial astute, knowledgeable and honest, he has consistently produced results that result in better outcomes for my business. I am pleased to call him our lawyer and partner.

I have known Michael for 15 years, he is dynamic in his approach to the various problems we have put his way. He gets to the heart of the problem quickly and provides a very workable solution. His litigation skills are excellent and forceful with the other party. I very much like him on my side.

Michael Shapiro is an experienced litigator who has a very calm and collected approach to his job. He is never phased by the other side, and has an excellent manner with even the most difficult clients.

Have a Question? Get in touch

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you resolve commercial disputes, please contact:

Michael ShapiroMichael Shapiro, Partner and Head of Litigation on email at, or telephone on 020 7822 2222
Barry Samuels – ConsultantBarry Samuels, Solicitor/Consultant on email at, or telephone on
020 7822 2222

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