The Practical Lawyer


Loss resulting from breach of duty – reaffirmed

The SC has recently given a judgment on solicitor’s professional negligence. The case involved a retired miner. 

He instructed Raleys (no win administration) to make a claim on his behalf for a payment from a compensation scheme set up by the government. He accepted general damages and settled the claim. He later brought a claim against Raleys alleging that their negligent advice meant that he had lost the opportunity to claim a further award. The CC found in favour of the firm.

Raleys admitted breach of duty but denied that their breach had caused any further loss. The trial judge concluded that the claimant did not have a significant disability and dismissed his claim. The CA reversed the decision. The SC allowed Raleys’ appeal and restored the original judgment. The SC held that the CA had wrongly interfered with a determination of facts at the original trial and in so doing, had taken steps that an appellate court was not entitled to take. The credibility of the original oral testimony was a matter for the trial judge to consider and not the CA.

The decision reaffirms that courts are required to ensure that negligence claimants prove that loss was caused by the breach of duty complained of. Professional firms and their insurers have no doubt breathed a sigh of relief as this judgment will stem the flow of cases alleging under-settlement in litigation proceedings. See Perry v Raleys Solicitors [2019] UKSC 5.


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