The concept of “reasonable reliance” can appear in several areas of law, but it is perhaps most commonly found in the tort of fraud. Cases such as this one from New York explain that fraud plaintiffs must prove not only that they relied on the defendant’s misrepresentation in question, but that the representation was reasonable. In other words, a person who claims to have been harmed by another’s false statement must prove that they were justified under the particular circumstances in believing that the statement was actually true. Reasonable reliance “connotes something more than simply a bare hope or anticipation.” Where a statement is made under conditions or circumstances where reliance on that statement cannot be reasonably anticipated or foreseen, the plaintiff cannot demonstrate reasonable reliance. During a civil trial, the jury will decide based on the evidence whether or not a plaintiff’s reliance on a defendant’s statement was reasonable under the circumstances of the case.
Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team