Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Deceit Definition:

Willful or reckless misrepresentation or concealment of material facts with an intent to mislead.

In Strong v Repide, the United States Supreme Court articuled the common law of deceit in the context of contract law as follows:

"[D]eceit which avoids the contract need not be by means of misrepresentations in words. It exists where the party who obtains the consent does so by means of concealing or omitting to state material facts, with intent to deceive, by reason of which omission or concealment the other party was induced to give a consent which he would not otherwise have given....

"[I]t is based upon the proposition that, under all the circumstances of the case, it was the duty of the party who obtained the consent, acting in good faith, to have disclosed the facts which he concealed."

In Pchajek, Justice Beard adopted these words:

"[D]eceit is defined as inducing a person to believe that a thing is true which is false and which the person practicing the deceit knows or believes to be false....

"Deceit does not have to be practiced on the victim, but there must be a causal connection between the deceit and the deprivation suffered by the victim;

"Deceit is not a required element of the actus reus of fraud, but is merely one of the means by which fraud may be practiced."

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