Judgments - Three Rivers District Council and Others (Original Appellants and Cross-Respondents) v. Governor and Company of The Bank of England (Original Respondents and Cross-Appellants)

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    In conformity with the character of the tort, the failure to act must be deliberate, not negligent or inadvertent or arising from a misunderstanding of the legal position. In my opinion, a failure to act can amount to misfeasance in public office only where (i) the circumstances are such that the discretion whether to act can only be exercised in one way so that there is effectively a duty to act; (ii) the official appreciates this but nevertheless makes a conscious decision not to act; and (iii) he does so with intent to injure the plaintiff or in the knowledge that such injury will be the natural and probable consequence of his failure to act.

    Although we heard argument directed to the requirement of proximity and in particular the suggested need for the plaintiff to establish "an antecedent legal interest" or, as I would prefer to put it, "a legally protected interest," I cannot see that this presents a problem in the present case. The statutory powers in question were conferred on the Bank of England for the protection of actual and potential depositors, and any member of either class can satisfy the requirement.


     I agree with the order which your Lordships propose.


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