Victims of Fraud May Recover Loss from Their Banks: Understanding the Quincecare Duty in Australia

In a world where digital transactions are becoming the norm, the incidence of financial fraud is an ever-present threat to individuals and corporations alike. The aftermath of such fraud can be devastating, leaving victims feeling vulnerable and financially crippled. However, in Australia, there is a beacon of hope for victims of fraud in the form of the Quincecare duty—a little-known legal principle that could be the key to recovering lost funds from banks.

What is the Quincecare Duty?

The Quincecare duty is a legal obligation imposed on banks that requires them to act with reasonable skill and care when executing their customer’s instructions. The duty was first established in the UK case of Barclays Bank plc v Quincecare Ltd [1992] 4 All ER 363 and has been recognized in various forms in other common law jurisdictions, including Australia. Essentially, it requires banks to refrain from executing an order if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the order is an attempt to misappropriate funds.

The Quincecare Duty in Australia

In Australia, the Quincecare duty is a developing area of law. The duty emerges from the contractual relationship between a bank and its customer. When a customer entrusts their funds to a bank, the bank is expected not only to follow the customer’s instructions but also to protect them from fraud. This duty is implied into the bank-customer contract and co-exists with the statutory obligations under the Corporations Act 2001, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001, and various other regulatory frameworks.

How Can Victims of Fraud Recover Losses?

Victims of fraud can potentially recover their losses from banks that fail to identify and stop fraudulent transactions. If a bank executes a transaction despite the presence of red flags that a reasonable bank would have identified as suggestive of fraud, the bank may be in breach of the Quincecare duty. In such cases, the victim may be able to hold the bank liable for the loss suffered.

For instance, if a company’s director instructs the bank to transfer company funds to an offshore account under suspicious circumstances, and the bank fails to take reasonable steps to verify the legitimacy of the transaction, the bank may be liable if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent.

The Challenges in Claiming Under the Quincecare Duty

Enforcing the Quincecare duty in Australia is not without its challenges. Claimants must demonstrate that the bank acted negligently, which often requires a detailed forensic analysis of the transaction and the surrounding circumstances. The bank’s internal fraud detection measures, the nature of the red flags that were ignored, and the standard industry practices all play a role in determining whether there was a breach of duty.


The recognition of the Quincecare duty in Australia serves as a crucial protection mechanism for customers. It is a reminder to banks that their role is not just to act on instructions, but to be vigilant gatekeepers of their customers’ funds. For victims of fraud, understanding and invoking the Quincecare duty can be a powerful avenue for recourse. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, it is imperative for both banks and customers to remain informed and vigilant against the scourge of financial fraud.

Hello! I am Nazifa Rahman-Ahmed

Nazifa, with 8+ years in law, started in criminal motor defense, handling Section 172 prosecutions, careless driving, and related offenses.