To be more precise, should the tort of fraudulent misrepresentation apply to promises made by politicians running for office? (Put another way, why are most claims of fraud or deceit limited to commercial cases?) One reason politicians are generally not liable for fraud when they make false promises is the common law doctrine of “justified reliance.” In other words, to win a common law fraud case, the allegedly fraudulent statement must not only be material and factual; the plaintiff’s reliance on such statement must also be justified (whatever that means). Since representations of opinion, representations about law, and representations about the future are usually not considered material or factual, most politicians are off the legal hook, so to speak.
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