Lupton Fawcett Denison Till, the Leeds, Sheffield and York-based commercial law firm, has successfully defeated a £7.5 million solicitor’s professional negligence claim. A three week trial had been arranged for June at the High Court in London, but intensive investigations have led to the claim being routed.
J Paul Sykes, a Director in the firm’s Dispute Management Department, acted for the Defendant, solicitors Glassbrooks Limited of Lytham St Annes. Paul says
“We decided at the beginning that whilst this was a very complicated claim, it was nothing more than a try on. It was fundamentally flawed and should be defended in full. We stuck to our guns and through the determination of our client, their insurers and barristers Michael Pooles QC and Paul Mitchell of Hailsham Chambers, we were able to highlight the defects behind what was an enormous mass of detail.”
The claim was brought by Merseyside based director John Costello and his family company Belfields Limited regarding a 5.5 acre development site that they owned. They complained that their planning disputes with the local authority and court cases including Judicial Review, Appeals to the Court of Appeal and Adjudication had been mishandled over five years by their solicitors Glassbrooks. A vast number of allegations were made.
Belfields Limited eventually received £1.25 million compensation from the local authority for the compulsory purchase of the land. However, they argued that they should have received much more. Belfields tried to blame their solicitors and took action against both Nick Glassbrook in person and Glassbrooks Limited for alleged loss of profit.
Paul Sykes says
“We had to focus on the detail of every part of the claim, and re-examine much that had taken place between the many different people involved over the five years. There were over 300 lever arch files. Through applications to the court, including a successful application to have the claim against Nick Glassbrook thrown out with costs at a very early stage, the Claimants produced another 3 megabytes of additional data in the last two months. We highlighted evidence which undermined the Claimants’ case.”
The claim was finally resolved after Mediation. The Claimants were forced to drop the whole claim. Nick Glassbrook said
“This is a great result, amounting to complete vindication. We resisted a great deal of pressure throughout, and with the help and expertise of Paul Sykes and the legal team, we scored a series of wins at court in preparing for the case. We were confident that when put under a microscope, Glassbrook’s handling of the underlying planning disputes and other complex legal proceedings was beyond criticism. It’s a relief that the proceedings are all over.”
Paul Sykes said
“I often act in high value claims against professionals for negligence, and on the other side of the fence for professionals and their insurers. Having that perspective from both sides helps decide how best to deal with an especially heavy case like this and I am pleased that we were able to see off this claim, and avoid the extra costs and time of a long trial”.
First published by Lupton Fawcett Denison Till 9 April 2014
J Paul Sykes LLB LLM