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Tracing

Toksoz v Westpac Banking Corporation [2012] NSWCA 199. Allsop ACJ.

7 Before turning to what the evidence disclosed and the arguments put on behalf of Mrs Toksoz, it is helpful to refer to the legal principles involved.

Tracing has been said not to be a right or remedy, but a process of demonstration or proof of what has happened to property: Foskett v McKeown [2001] 1 AC 102 at 128Robb Evans v European Bank Ltd [2004] NSWCA 82; 61 NSWLR 75 at [133].

This expression of the matter can be accepted. The legal consequences of this approach and any qualification to it, especially by reference to restitutionary principle, need not be explored.

8 Money can be traced notwithstanding an inability of the follower to connect each link in the chain of accounts. Commonsense and reasonable inference play their part, especially if there is fraud involved and if there is a lack of explanation, when the circumstances cry out for honesty to be explained, if it can be.

9 A number of cases reveal a sensible robust approach to the tracing of moneys from theft: R v Powell (1837) 7 Car & P 640; 173 ER 280; Harford v Lloyd (1855) 20 Beav 310; 52 ER 622; Black v S Freedman & Co [1910] HCA 58; 12 CLR 105; Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale Ltd [1991] 2 AC 548; El Ajou v Dollar Land Holdings Plc [1993] 3 All ER 717; and see the discussion in L D Smith,The Law of Tracing (Clarendon Press, 1997) at 263 and the other cases there cited.

The expression "tracing by exhaustion" is sometimes used.

Where the facts as proved are sufficient to permit the inference that moneys have been received or property bought without there being an honest source available to explain the wealth and the sums or value can be seen as referable to the following party's property wrongfully obtained, such that the inference is open that the wrongfully obtained funds were the source of the wealth, the funds can be so treated.

One does not need to be able to show every link in the chain of accounts from and through which the money passed. Inferences will be more easily drawn, as here, in circumstances where the funds were stolen, the person who is said to have provided the funds was one of the thieves who stole money from the follower, when the recipient has an apparent close relationship with the thief, which recipient gave no value for it, has no personal source of income and gives no explanation as to the source or circumstances of the receipt of the money or any honest source of it.

10 None of this is the expression of a principle of law. It is the expression of the available approach to fact finding in the presence of fraud and lack of explanation when plainly called for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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