"The Mental Element in Equitable Accessory Liability"
Published: 1 June 2021
Abstract: There has been heated debate over the test of dishonesty since it was first laid down in Royal Brunei Airlines v Tan. This paper argues that the essence of ‘dishonest’ assistance is willing participation in a breach of trust, that is, assistants endorse or accept their causal role in bringing it about. Three implications follow. First, the mental element should be fixed at the minimum level necessary to reflect endorsement rather than varying by the degree of causal contribution to the primary wrong. Second, the test of neither dishonesty nor knowledge fully captures the requisite mental element for endorsement. Third, a test framed in terms of intention and belief concerning the core elements of a breach would better identify the mental element of accessory liability in equity. This reformulated test would add much-needed transparency to mental element determination for equitable accessory liability.