Search court cases and case law in the UK


Langsam v Beachcroft LLP & Ors [2012] EWCA Civ 1230 (CA) 4/10/12


Solicitors acting in a professional negligence action in a claim against their client's former accountants were said to have provided excessively cautious advice leading to too low a settlement. The solicitors' defence was that they had relied on leading counsel's advice and counterclaimed for outstanding fees. The lower court judge held that the critical advice was given by leading counsel and that the settlement figure was not negligent and that the solicitors had not been negligent in handling witnesses or obtaining valuations. On appeal the Court of Appeal held that the fact that a solicitor gave advice consistent with the advice previously given by leading counsel when leading counsel was not present did not mean the solicitor had accepted an independent duty. The relationship remained as before and the solicitor's responsibility was to consider whether Counsel's advice was obviously or glaringly wrong. There was no obligation on a solicitor to provide a spectrum of figures as to the loss likely to be recovered if a case proceeded to trial. If the advice given was not negligent it would be wrong to hold that it was so because it did not give a more optimistic view of what he might recover at trial. Although the judge had taken six months to deliver his judgment and that exceeded the standard time for delivering the judgment there was no prejudice because all the witness statements had been obtained and the judge's intuitive impression of witnesses had not faded. There was also transcripts of evidence and submissions.