R v Bryan – Case Summary

R v Bryan

Crown Court

Citations: (1857) Dears & B 265; 7 Cox C C 312.


The defendant obtained a favourable loan from a pawnbroker, leveraging a set of spoons as collateral. The spoons were of inferior quality, but the defendant falsely represented them as being ‘as good as Elkington’s A’ spoons (which had high silver content) and being of the best material.

The defendant was charged with fraud. He argued that his statements were not deceptive because they were merely exaggeration.

  1. Were the defendant’s statements deceptive?

The Court held that the defendant had not made deceptive statements. Therefore, he was not guilty of fraud. The defendant had merely exaggerated the qualities of the goods, which was not deceptive.

This Case is Authority For…

Lord Campbell CJ stated that ‘a mere misrepresentation at the time of sale of the quality of the goods’ is not deceptive for the purposes of fraud.


Cockburn CJ noted that the case would have been decided differently if the defendant’s exaggerations represented the goods as entirely different to what they were, rather than a mere difference in quality. For example, if the defendant had said the spoons were manufactured by Elkington’s, rather than they were ‘just as good’, this would be deceptive.