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A Misrepresentation made with the express intention of defrauding someone, which subsequently causes injury to that person.

In order for a statement to be deceit, it must be untrue, made with knowledge of its falsity, or made in reckless disregard of the truth. The misrepresentation must be such that it causes harm to another individual.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. dishonesty, fraudulent conduct, false statements made knowing them to be untrue, by which the liar intends to deceive a party receiving the statements and expects the party to believe and rely on them. This is a civil wrong (tort) giving rise to the right of a person reasonably relying on such dishonesty to the point of his/her injury to sue the deceiver. (See: fraud, misrepresentation)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


the tort of making a fraudulent statement committed where the defendant knowingly or recklessly makes a false representation intending that the plaintiff should act upon it where the plaintiff does act and to his detriment. In Scotland similar facts would be litigated as the delict fraud.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DECEIT, tort. A fraudulent. misrepresentation or contrivance, by which one man deceives another, who has no means of detecting the fraud, to the injury and damage of the latter.
     2. Fraud, or the intention to deceive, is the very essence of this injury, for if the party misrepresenting was himself mistaken, no blame can attach to him. The representation must be made malo animo, but whether or not the party is himself to gain by it, is wholly immaterial.
     3. Deceit may not only be by asserting a falsehood deliberately to the injury of another as, that Paul is in flourishing circumstances, whereas he is in truth insolvent; that Peter is an honest man, when he knew him to be a, rogue; that property, real or personal, possesses certain qualities, or belongs to the vendor, whereas he knew these things to be false; but by any act or demeanor which would naturally impress the mind of a careful man with a mistaken belief.
     4. Therefore, if one whose manufactures are of a superior quality, distinguishes them by a particular mark, which facts are known to Peter, and Paul counterfeits this work, and affixes them to articles of the same description, but not made by such person, and sells them to Peter as goods of such manufacture, this is a deceit.
     5. Again, the vendor having a knowledge of a defect in a commodity which cannot be obvious to the buyer, does not disclose it, or, if apparent, uses an artifice and conceals it, he has been guilty of a fraudulent misrepresentation for there is an implied condition in every contract that the parties to it act upon equal terms, and the seller is presumed to have assured or represented to the vendee that he is not aware of any secret deficiencies by which the commodity is impaired, and that he has no advantage which himself does not possess.
     6. But in all these cases the party injured must have no means of detecting the fraud, for if he has such means his ignorance will not avail him in that case he becomes the willing dupe of the other's artifice, and volenti non fit injuria. For example, if a horse is sold wanting an eye, and the defect is visible to a common observer, the purchaser cannot be said to be deceived, for by inspection he might discover it, but if the blindness is only discoverable by one experienced in such diseases, and the vendee is an inexperienced person, it is a deceit, provided the seller knew of the defect.
     7. The remedy for a deceit, unless the right of action has been suspended or discharged, is by an action of trespass on the case. The old writ of deceit was brought for acknowledging a fine, or the like, in another name, and this being a perversion of law to an evil purpose, and a high contempt, the act was laid contra pacem, and a fine imposed upon the offender. See Bro. Abr. Disceit; Vin Abr. Disceit.
     8. When two or more persons unite in a deceit upon another, they may be indicted for a conspiracy. (q.v.) Vide, generally, 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 2321- 29; Skin. 119; Sid. 375; 3 T. R. 52-65; 1 Lev. 247; 1 Strange, 583; D Roll. Abr. 106; 7 Barr, Rep. 296; 11 Serg. & R. 309, 310; Com. Dig. Action upon the case for a deceit; Chancery, 3 F 1 and 2; 3 M 1; 3 N 1; 4 D 3; 4 H 4; 4 L 1; 4 O 2; Covin; Justices of the Peace, B 30; Pleader, 2 H; 1 Vin. Ab. 560; 8 Vin. Ab. 490; Doct. Pl. 51; Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.; 1 Chit. Pr. 832 Ham. N. P. c. 2, s. 4; Ayl. Pand. 99 2 Day, 531; 12 Mass. 20; 3 Johns. 269; 6 Johns. 181; 2 Day, 205, 381; 4 Yeates, 522; 18 John. 395: 8 John. 23; 4 Bibb, 91; 1 N. & M. 197. Vide, also, articles Equality; Fraud; Lie.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Summary: White lies, broken promises, fabrication, deceit and plagiarism...
Understanding lying and deceit provides an insight into human nature.
The greatest deceit of all is saved for the final page, where a map purports to show that Syria and Iraq are "countries set to join the EU".
But London-based media consultancy Ian Monk Associates (IMA), representing Mr Haigh, says that he has now filed a counterclaim in the UK courts against five parties, including GFH alleging a so-called "tort of deceit."
A tort of deceit, in English civil law, provides a remedy for an individual, who has relied on a false representation to their detriment.
He told Lord Justice Kay, Mr Justice Wright and Mr Justice Henriques: ``I seek to demonstrate on behalf of the appellant that there are a series of deceits that have gone on in his case in terms of non-disclosure.''
In her newest book she asks herself to what extent Montaigne's deceit, troubling omissions or even self-acknowledged lies seek to express obliquely the truth.
In this instance our initial target is a specifically verbal tradition (eventually becoming a literary convention) that led Vasari - but not necessarily Bronzino - to call such a synthetic creature "la Fraude," the very personification of "Deceit."(5) Another issue implicitly present, if often only on the periphery of what follows, is the Renaissance artist's newly won license for fantasia, then signifying an enviable power of combinatory fantasy expressed in composite invention(s).(6) As depicted by Bronzino, the figuratively fraudulent figure has the pale, mask-like face belonging to a donzella (virginal girl, as will be later so stated by yet another contemporary author, Lodovico Dolce), and her false physiognomy is similarly complemented by "false" (or reversed) hands.
Clearly, the Dante-derived hybrid figure of Deceit was taken up by both poets and painters as a standard iconographic type - who rendered it sometimes male, but more often female - and they did so some decades before the first publication of Ripa's Iconologia.