Court of Appeal rules on limitation period for equitable rescission

On 14 April 2021, in IGE v HMRC [2021] EWCA Civ 534, the Court of Appeal (Henderson, Asplin and Birss LJJ) allowed GE’s appeal against the decision of Zacaroli J [2020] EWHC 2121 (Ch).

Following a three day expedited appeal, the Court held (Henderson LJ giving the main judgment), following Molloy v Mutual Reserve Life Insurance Company (1906) 94 LT 756, that the limitation period for equitable rescission for fraudulent misrepresentation, pursuant to s.36 of the Limitation Act, was six years, by way of analogy to the limitation period for an action for damages for deceit. The Court disagreed with Zacaroli J’s analysis  - and HMRC’s submission – that Molloy could be distinguished and that the appropriate analogy was with common law rescission (which has no limitation period) rather than deceit. The judgment contains a discussion of equitable and common law rescission, the operation of s.36 of the Limitation Act and the scope of the rule in Young v Bristol Aeroplane (which allows the Court of Appeal to decline to follow otherwise binding authority in certain circumstances).

The Judgment is available here .

Laurence Rabinowitz QC and Nicholas Sloboda, instructed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, acted for the successful appellants, GE (together with John Gardiner QC, John Brinsmead-Stockham, Thomas Bell and Professor Paul Davies).