Professional negligence is both a corollary to the business sectors we support most often, and a core area of practice at Fountain Court in its own right. At a time when there has been extensive litigation in those sectors our members have been involved in a wide variety of professional negligence cases.
Our professional negligence practitioners are in demand for not only their commercial litigation expertise across a number of practice areas, but also their regulatory knowledge.
Fountain Court fields a number of authors of specialist texts in this area, including leading works such as Professional Negligence and Liability, Bullen & Leake & Jacob’s Precedents of Pleadings, Clerk & Lindsell on Torts and The Journal of Professional Negligence.
Sectoral knowledge is highly relevant in the context of any professional negligence claim. Members have been advising in connection with claims arising out of or related to “credit crunch” issues. These include negligence claims involving investment managers, financial advisers, brokers and solicitors – these types of claim form the core of our work as a first-class professional negligence set.
Banks, insurers, institutions and individuals use us for this purpose, but also because we can field teams in this area, thanks to a strong combination of professional negligence silks and juniors.
Members of Chambers are regularly instructed in cases concerning accountants and auditors, solicitors, insurance brokers, banks, financial advisers, fund and asset managers, stockbrokers, surveyors and architects.
Barristers and solicitors’ negligence
In the field of solicitors’ negligence, the set was instructed in the flagship London Underground negligence case against Freshfields and Herbert Smith Freehills, one of The Lawyer’s Top Cases of 2013, which later settled on confidential terms.
Equally, the set acted in Swain Mason v Mills & Reeve, in the defence of a claim against a firm of solicitors arising out of allegedly negligent tax advice – now the leading Court of Appeal case on late amendment of pleadings.
It also acted in a large professional negligence claim, brought against law firm Beachcroft by their former client, Langsam. The case was important for findings made by the Court of Appeal on solicitors’ and counsel’s duties as to advising on settlement and the amount of detail they must go into and on reliance on counsel and on joint advice by counsel and solicitors.
Financial services negligence
Claims for professional negligence involving financial misselling are also prominently handled. The set was involved on both sides in the Al-Suleiman litigation against both Credit Suisse and Plurimi Capital, where the Commercial Court dismissed a large misselling claim brought by an ultra-high-net-worth Saudi investor in connection with a number of investments made.
Thanks to our client exposure and experience in working with financial institutions, in particular, we are in an optimal position both to advance and defend negligent misselling claims, including those where multi-million pound recoveries are sought or defended.
Members have also acted in cases affecting the fund management industry, as well as financial services, and property valuation cases. The set is currently instructed in a claim for c£150 million against a group of fund managers arising out of the collapse of a group of investment funds operated in Guernsey. It has also advised leading investment banks.
Members of chambers also represent different parties to the Keydata litigation, including the main defendant, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and a large number of Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) as other defendants, in a case in which the FSCS is bringing multi-million pound claims against the defendants relating to the alleged misselling of investments.
Negligent tax advice
The set has also acted in the Innovator One case, in acting for IFAs, which saw counsel win both at appeal and at trial, in respect of defending claims that various IFAs had allegedly failed to advise subscribers on the risks of a tax mitigation scheme.
The set is also expert in dealing with cases relating to negligent tax law advice, such as the case of Mehjoo v Harben Barker, which found that a generalist tax accountant can be liable for failing to advise a client to seek the advice of a tax specialist, in a claim against a firm of accountants in relation to allegedly negligent tax advice given to a non-domiciled UK resident.