n Annual Survey of South African Law - Unjustified enrichment




In 2010 (3) SA 410 (SCA), the plaintiff bank sued its customer (defendant) in the magistrate's court for recovery of R48 000 that had been withdrawn from the defendant's account after a cheque had been deposited into that account and before it was discovered that the signature on the cheque had been forged. The claim was formulated as a condictio indebiti - an enrichment claim arising from an undue transfer. The defendant argued, in response, that the plaintiff was estopped from relying on the forgery because the clerk employed by the plaintiff at the inquiries desk of the branch at which the defendant banked had represented to him that 'the cheque was good'. The defendant instituted a counterclaim for R89 000. This amount represented the value of a cheque deposited by him into the same account. The plaintiff had refused to credit the defendant with that amount because it had discovered that the signatures on that cheque had also been forged. The magistrate dismissed the plaintiff's claim and granted the counterclaim, whereupon the plaintiff successfully appealed to the Bloemfontein High Court. The latter court upheld the plaintiff's claim and granted absolution from the instance in respect of the counterclaim. The defendant appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which dismissed the appeal. Snyders JA delivered the judgment; Streicher, Heher, Malan JJA and Leach AJA concurred.


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