As we look towards 2013 and back to all-but the last weeks of 2012, my attention is drawn to three interesting cases heard in the Court of Appeal regarding different allegations of professional negligence against solicitors:
· in Langsam v Beachcroft LLP, it was held that a solicitors’ “excessively cautious advice as to settlement of a claim”, was not in itself professionally negligent where it was premised upon non-negligent advice given by leading counsel. The case also held that in the circumstances, a six-month delay in delivering judgment had not affected the judge's findings of fact or law;
· in Swain Mason v Mills & Reeve, it was held that a firm of solicitors was not under a duty to advise on the adverse tax consequences that would arise on the death of a client, in circumstances where he had not asked for any such advice, and the death occurred during a routine medical procedure and which the solicitors only knew of by chance. Also it was held that a decision not to accept an offer to mediate does not automatically have adverse costs consequences; and
· in Lloyds TSB Bank Plc v Markandan & Uddin, a firm of solicitors, when acting on behalf of a mortgage lender on the sale and purchase of a property, had committed a breach of trust when it transferred a mortgage advance to the vendors' purported solicitors without receiving the requisite documentation or a solicitor's undertaking. Whilst the solicitors were themselves a victim of the fraud, and thus relief could be afforded to a solicitor in such cases pursuant to section 61 of the Trustee Act 1925, it was right not to order it in the instant case due to inexcusable failings by the solicitors.
This article is a précis of a much longer article by Thomas Crockett in a 2012 Professional Negligence Case Review published by 1 Chancery Lane Chambers, which can be found at http://www.1chancerylane.com/documents/newsletters/ProfNegBriefing_December2012.pdf