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Company boss allegedly defrauded in dumper truck deal wins legal action over bank

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Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

A company boss allegedly defrauded in a £91,000 deal to sell two dumper trucks overseas has won a legal action against his bank.

The High Court backed Jeremy Taylor's claim that he was assured payment from the Dubai-based buyer had cleared in his Bank of Ireland account before he released the vehicles.

Neither piece of machinery collected from his firm, Tracked Dumper Hire UK, has ever been recovered.

Mr Justice Weatherup ruled that he can recover the vehicles' estimated £75,000 worth, rather than the full asking price.

He said: "This was a fraud and the price agreed by the fraudster was to facilitate the fraud rather than representing the market value of the goods."

Mr Taylor's business specialises in the hire and sale of tracked vehicles to the construction industry.

In June 2009 he agreed to sell two trucks to Automatic 1 Machinery Company in the United Arab Emirates for £91,500.

Having provided the purchaser with his firm's details at a Bank of Ireland branch in Belfast, he checked online and discovered the amount credited to his account.

Mr Taylor claimed he and his accounts clerk both phoned the bank and were told the £91,500 had cleared. 

On that basis he allowed the machinery to be collected by a haulage contractor on behalf of Automac 1, the court heard.

Days later, however, he was notified that the payment to his account had been recalled due to a suspected fraud and counterfeit cheque.

Mr Taylor sued Bank of Ireland for the full £91,500, alleging negligence and breach of contract.

Lawyers for the bank disputed liability and rejected the contention that he was told the sum had been credited to his account as cleared funds.

In a further defence, they argued Mr Taylor was guilty of contributory negligence by failing to carry out further investigations into Automac 1 - an entity based outside the UK with whom he had no previous business dealings.

In a judgment published today, Mr Justice Weatherup concluded that Mr Taylor did receive assurances of cleared funds.

"With a sale to a foreign party that the plaintiff had not previously dealt with an assurance on cleared funds was an obvious step to take and the plaintiff stated that he did not agree to the release of the machinery until he had received that assurance," he said.

Rejecting the contributory negligence argument, the judge pointed out that the businessman had relied on assurances from the bank.

Mr Justice Weatherup held that the value of the machinery rather than the value of the cheque represented the loss involved.

"I do not accept that the plaintiff can recover the amount that the fraudster agreed to pay," he said. 

"Looking at the values in reports and taking account of the possible discount I value the goods for the purposes of the plaintiff's loss at £75,000 which is the amount I find recoverable by the plaintiff."

Belfast Telegraph