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    • Rachael Healey - RPC

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The defendant-focused Bond Dickinson LLP specialises in advising clients on claims arising from solicitors’ professional negligence, but is also adept at handling cases involving construction contractors, barristers, and accountants. It also has expertise in matters relating to brokers, engineers, pension professionals, surveyors and IT professionals. The team acts for insurers and their respective policyholders, providing policy advice and claims-handling services; it assisted AIG with the establishment of an outsourced claims handling operation. Claims involving cross-border issues are another area of strength. The team is led by the Southampton-based James Robins and includes Ian Peacock and Gary Oldroyd. The Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund and Liberty Mutual Insurance are other clients.

CMS’ key areas of expertise are construction claims, CAR claims and disputes against construction professionals, and financial services claims. It also acts in claims against insurance intermediaries, solicitors, accountants, actuaries and architects, as well as banks, financial advisers, and lawyers other than solicitors. Surveyor’s negligence, and negligence in relation to pensions professionals and trustees are also part of the team’s areas of expertise. It undertakes defence work, but also provides policy advice to clients, in particular insurance policy coverage advice, including advising on policy interpretation and the application of exclusions. The practice is experienced in resolving disputes through adjudication and mediation and has acted in in a number of high-profile matters, including cross-border ones involving questions of relevant jurisdiction. Cheryl Gibson and the London-based Ed Foss head the practice, which also includes Zoe Burge. QBE, Channel Syndicate, Axis and CNA Hardy are clients. Belinda Schofield retired.

DAC Beachcroft LLP acts for insurers, handling coverage issues such as directors’ risk and advising on title indemnity policies, as well as large professional services firms from the legal, financial services, construction and surveying sectors. It provides an outsourced claims handling service to large professional indemnity insurers and advises on environmental issues involving planning consultants and surveyors. Marcus Campbell and Helen Faulkner head the six-partner-strong practice, which includes legal director Justine Williams, who joined from Kennedys, and Rebecca Smith. Highlights included successfully defending QBE and one of its insured law firms in three highly important trials for alleged negligent under-settlement of miners’ vibration white finger claims and negotiating a favourable settlement for Liberty Insurance and one of its insured insurance broker companies in a claim of more than £2m brought by a policyholder against the insurance broker following a serious workplace accident. The team also successfully negotiated a favourable settlement for Zurich Insurers and a students’ union in a claim brought forward by a student against the union, and several of its directors and trustees, involving allegations of discrimination, victimisation, and harassment. Aviva, Zurich Financial Services and Travelers Insurance are other clients.

RPC acts for insurers, their insured, and professional services firms in matters relating to the negligence of solicitors, insurance brokers, accountants, financial and pension professionals, surveyors and construction professionals, providing defence work as well as advice on policy coverage issues. Areas of expertise include advising professional services firms and solicitors on disciplinary and regulatory matters, acting in corporate and tax litigation, as well as assisting with conveyancing and estate planning-related issues. The practice also regularly handles claims against trustees, actuaries, and administrators, in particular in relation to investment decisions. Will Sefton represented Giambrone Law and its insurer AIG on a multimillion-pound case involving claims from several hundreds of people against three Italian solicitors who had advised them on the purchase process of off-plan properties in Italy which were subsequently not built and eventually seized by the Italian police in relation to an anti-mafia operation. The claims, which were heard in the High Court before returning to appeal, sought damages for lost deposits as well as additional losses. The team also successfully defended Colliers against a claim in relation to surveyors’ over-valuation of five London properties. Practice head Jeremy Barnes, Peter Mansfield and Robert Morris are also recommended. Rachael Healey was promoted from senior associate to legal director.

Burges Salmon LLP has a strong track record of acting for lenders and has experience in advising on claims relating to financial services, solicitors, pensions, construction, environmental issues and energy. It also handles claims involving auditing and accountancy, surveyors, tax, actuaries, IT professionals and fund managers while cases regarding cyber-security breaches and regulatory interventions make up an increasing part of the workload. The team undertakes mostly claimant work and acts for private clients, companies, and large financial institutions. The ‘clear-headed, practical and committed’ Andrew Burnette heads the practice and led in a High Court claim against surveyors Edward Symmons in relation to an over-valuation of properties, which involved a novel point of law on the recovery of losses from a negligent professional. Justin Briggs was lead partner in advising Nomura London Retirement Benefits Plan Trustee and Nomura International in a case involving the negligent drafting of pension scheme rules, advising on a potential pre-action disclosure application and subsequently rectifying the pension scheme rules. In another pension scheme case, the group acted for Volvo Group UK and the trustees of the corresponding pension scheme on recovery of costs of rectification proceedings required after negligent drafting of the pension scheme rules, ending the case through tri-partite mediation. Clients include the Co-operative Bank, Nationwide Building Society, Volvo Group UK, and Cobb Europe.

Clarke Willmott LLP is ‘very well regarded in relation to professional negligence work’ and provides ‘realistic advice on possible outcomes’. It has a particularly good reputation for its claimant work, but also undertakes defendant work. The practice, noted for its strength in depth, shows expertise in a number of different sectors, ranging from claims against tax advisers and accountants in the banking and financial services sector, to construction, agriculture, private client, and property transactions. It has experience in acting for lenders in claims against solicitors, valuers and surveyors in relation to commercial lending transactions, but is also adept at handling claims against architects, engineers and quantity surveyors, as well as land agents. Practice head Alex Jakubowski is ‘a fierce opponent and a first-class choice for any client’, while Philippa Hann, who specialises in financial litigation, is noted for her impressive technical knowledge. Highlights included acting for Lloyds Bank on a high-profile claim against a firm of monitoring surveyors, which involved allegations of negligence and recklessness, and handling a claim against Knight Frank on behalf of Lloyds Bank subsequent to an inflated valuation. Showcasing its insurance sector strength, the team advised Great Lakes Reinsurance and Burford Capital on a claim against Pennington Manches alleging negligent advice during litigation. In the tax sector, the practice advised a number of high-net-worth private clients on claims against Ernst&Young subsequent to tax advice concerning tax-mitigation film scheme LLPs.

The expertise of Kennedys’ ‘excellent’ five-partner-strong practice includes defending negligence claims against solicitors, barristers and medical professionals. The practice is also adept at handling claims against accountants, independent financial advisers, but also advises on D&O claims as well as property and fire-related claims. It has started to build expertise in managing general agent-related claims and is growing its work for UMAL, for which it was appointed to handle professional negligence claims, representing universities in litigation and regulatory matters. Pen Underwriting is another recent client win. Sarah Cornish heads the practice, which includes Simon Combe who is recommended for his expertise and awareness of practicalities. Mark Skinner relocated from the London office. Highlights included successfully representing an architect against allegations of negligent design and failure to inspect in relation to a high-value luxury property and defending a property agent in relation to damages caused to luxury town-houses caused by sewage waters. Clients include AIG, Allied World and the Medical Protection Society.

Osborne Clarke delivers an ‘excellent’ level of service, with ‘first-class’ responsiveness and ‘good’ levels of industry knowledge in the professional services sector. It advises on issues from three main areas: professional negligence litigation for accountancy companies, both for claimants and defendants, but with a stronger focus on defendant work, representing claimants acting against pension providers, with experience covering claims against investment advisers, pension providers, solicitors and actuaries, and handling claims against construction professionals and property-related negligence claims in general. This third area includes claims against surveyors, valuers, engineers, architects, and contractors. Leona Briggs heads the team, which includes ‘excellent’ ‘careful and canny litigator’ Tom Ellis, Clare Robinson, and ‘bright’ associate director Charles Crowne, who is ‘a superb lawyer’. Paul Matthews specialises in advising on high-value claims in pension law professional negligence. Clients include Clerical Medical Investment Group, Wincanton and Harrods Bank.

TLT provides ‘excellent technical and strategic advice’ and is noted for its ‘ability to offer pragmatic solutions when dealing with complex issues’. The service level is ‘excellent’ and the ‘very client-centric’ team is ‘very experienced’, delivering specialist advice on claims in the financial services, corporate, pensions and construction sectors. The team works with the firm’s litigation practice on matters in relation to fraud and banking recovery claims and has experience in advising on the insurance aspects of real estate transactions and infrastructure projects. Additionally, it is adept at resolving matters through the use of alternative dispute resolution, mostly mediation. Neil Franklin, who shows ‘excellent leadership’, is co- head of the professional negligence team and specialises in professional negligence in the financial services sector. Other co-head Richard Hall specialises in property-related professional negligence. The practice recently acted for a major high street clearing bank in a complex £15m claim against an international company of valuers and solicitors regarding negligent advice given in relation to a property development loan. The case involved issues of fraud and various title issues and was successfully settled via mediation, with the bank making a substantial recovery. The department also acted for another UK clearing bank in recovering losses suffered as a result of fraud across several mortgage accounts. Clients include RBS Group, UPS, and Avon Rubber plc.

Ashfords LLP advises claimants on claims in six areas of practice: banking, bloodstock, construction, solicitors, accountants and financial services. The team’s expertise in the banking sector includes claims against surveyors, solicitors and project managers, as well as claims in relation to over-valuations, failures to report, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. In the bloodstock sector, it acts in claims against veterinary surgeons and other professionals while work in the construction sector includes handling claims arising from negligent design, cost advice and project management, with claims brought against architects, engineers and quantity surveyors as well as project managers. Rory Mac Neice heads the team, which includes Victoria Bonnet. Clients include Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland plc, The Agricultural Mortgage Corporation and Devon County Council. The team’s recent caseload includes advising a leading high street clearing bank on a multi-defendant claim brought against a large firm of surveyors regarding the over-valuation of a property.

Beale & Company Solicitors LLP is noted for its very good service. The practice advises insurers of all non-medical professions and professional service providers across a broad range of sectors. The team covers negligence involving solicitors, accountants, surveyors and construction professionals as well as independent financial advisers. Apart from undertaking defence work, the practice also supports clients with claim handling services, policy coverage advice and document review services. It is adept at handling high-value cases and has experience in representing clients in the Supreme Court. Rhian Howell heads the team; she specialises in defending professionals facing disciplinary proceedings and has a track record of successfully settling matters through mediation. Joe Eizenberg is also recommended. Clients include RSA, Aviva, the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund and Aspen Risk Management.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys is a ‘technically excellent practice’ with particular expertise in the banking and finance sector. Its expertise covers negligence claims against accountants, solicitors, financial advisers and surveyors. The team advises high-net-worth individuals, SMEs and plcs, with clients including banks and insurance companies. Practice head and ‘very good tactician in litigation’ Adam Finch ‘brings excellent client care and management skills’. He led in advising a high-net-worth couple in a high six-figure claim relating to negligent investment advice involving an offshore bond. The team also successfully acted for the shareholders of Marrill in a claim arising from the over-valuation of company stock when completing the accounts, which led to the withdrawal of credit facilities and the company being put into administration. Clients come from a broad variety of sectors and include Attivo Group, Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, Assured Futures, and Sleeperz Cardiff.

Michelmores LLP undertakes work in three key areas: private wealth; finance and investment, with particular strengths including distressed and overvalued assets as well as product suitability; and real estate. Other areas of work are agricultural professional negligence and veterinary negligence, including subsidy claims, the purchase of agricultural property, the presale vetting of horses and valuation issues in relation to pedigree livestock. The practice acts for high-net-worths, SMEs, private investors, and large national and international companies. It is experienced in handling complex high-value matters. Simon Barnett heads the team, which includes senior associate Jayne Clemens and recently made partner Jonathan Kitchin.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) advises on claims against solicitors, surveyors and valuers. The practice mainly undertakes claimant work, but also acts for professionals facing negligence claims, including solicitors, patent agents and surveyors. Ed Husband leads the team, which also includes Ben Holt. The practice acted for Platform Funding, a subsidiary of the Co-operative bank, in a claim against a firm of valuers which had failed to inform the client of the fact that the property for which the client arranged a mortgage was in fact a commercial property, making it significantly more difficult for the client to enforce its security. In another case for Platform Funding, the team acted in a complex multi-party claim against solicitors in relation to a fraudulent sale-and-lease-back scheme.

DWF specialises in insurance sector work, acting for insurers and insurance brokers. The practice is particularly experienced in handling highly complex and highly technical claims, including disputes relating to technical engineering and claims against construction professionals. Other areas of expertise are solicitors’ negligence, claims against accountants and actuaries, and claims in relation to financial services products and regulations. Following the merger with Fox Hartley, the practice has strengthened its work in acting for brokers, regulatory authorities, engineers, naval architects, aircraft maintenance facilities and IT consultants. It provides outsourced claims handling services and loss adjustment services. Simon Mason heads the team, which now includes Peter Barnes who joined from Fox Hartley. The team’s recent caseload includes acting for a professional indemnity insurer and its insured firm of solicitors in a Court of Appeal case in relation to conflicts of interest and payable work by solicitors.

Lester Aldridge LLP advises mostly claimants on both traditional professional negligence claims, such as claims against solicitors, accountants, independent financial advisers and surveyors, and on niche areas such as marine surveyor’s negligence. It is particularly adept at handling claims against accountants and independent financial advisors in relation to aggressive tax schemes. The team handles national and international claims and has experience in multi-party actions and high-value claims. Michael Giddins heads the practice.

Meade King LLP acts for private individuals and SMEs in claims against solicitors, barristers, surveyors, insolvency practitioners and accountants. A particular area of expertise is professional negligence claims in the construction sector, including claims against architects, and property-related claims more generally. It exclusively undertakes claimant work. John Vasey is the head of the team.

Stephens Scown LLP advises claimants on professional negligence claims against solicitors and barristers, accountants, architects and surveyors, valuers and financial advisers. It is experienced in advising on claims in the charities and marine sector as well as in handling mortgage lender claims and claims arising from contentious probate cases. Additionally, the team offers services in relation to the professional negligence aspects of property litigation, such as regarding rights of way and commercial property. Catherine Mathews heads the professional negligence team following Chris Harper’s retirement.

Slee Blackwell provides ‘excellent service’ to clients, handling a range of claims arising in a variety of professions. It specialises mainly in claims against solicitors, with negligence claims in relation to wills, trust and probate as a particular area of expertise, acting exclusively for claimants. Emma Slade heads the practice and is particularly recommended. Recent highlights include acting for a client in a claim which had arisen due to negligent financial advising in the form of an unsuitable fixed rate mortgage, also acting against solicitors in a claim relating to a prescriptive easement on an industrial property and a claim involving a contested will and testamentary capacity; both cases were settled successfully. Other recent work includes handling a claim against a surveyor who had failed to properly check the boundaries on a property.

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