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With a ‘knowledgeable, pragmatic and responsive team’, Brodies LLP is the ‘leading firm in the professional indemnity arena in Scotland’. It represents both pursuers and defenders in claims involving the range of professional disciplines, including major professional services companies in the real estate, construction, financial, employment and cyber-risk sectors, in addition to major insurer panel appointments. The team is jointly led by Alisdair Matheson and the ‘leading’ Alan Calvert, who is particularly noted for his experience in representing solicitors and accountants. Calvert represented a law firm, and its professional indemnity insurance in an £8m claim arising from the drafting of notices to quit agricultural tenancies, which were held to be invalid by the Land Court; a case that was dismissed based on a time bar following a preliminary proof. Tony Jones QC joined from BTO Solicitors LLP in June 2018.

BTO Solicitors LLP’s defender-focused professional negligence practice advises a mixture of professional indemnity and D&O insurers, covering advocates, accountants, architects, engineers, surveyors and other insured or regulated professionals. Alan Eadie leads the team and, alongside Ashley Mawby , frequently acts as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mediator. Eadie continues to defend a law firm against a $210m action in connection with breach of contract, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty allegations concerning a private equity investment in the claimant’s oil service company; a case which is now at the Commercial Court. He also defended a consulting engineering company against a £3.6m multi-party liability claim by the employer in a faulty construction project, which was subsequently dismissed due to a time-bar. Tony Jones QC left the firm for Brodies LLP in June 2018.

‘One of the best firms for defender clients’, Clyde & Co LLP is best known for handling claims against solicitors and counsel, although it also handles cases involving a range of professionals and their insurers, including in the construction and financial spaces. Anne Kentish, whose ‘attention to detail and preparation is second to none’, leads the team, which includes the ‘fiercely intelligent’ Graeme Watson, ‘brilliant grand strategist’ Charles McGregor, ‘seasoned and doughty negotiator’ Peter Anderson and the ‘organised and thorough’ Gavin Henderson . The group successfully defended a firm of consulting engineers in a multi-party dispute in the Court of Session, which arose from the failure of a concrete slab due to weather damage, which was dismissed due to a time bar.

CMS has ‘a leading professional negligence team in relation to all forms of construction industry claims’ and ‘a genuine familiarity with the sectors it operates in’, representing both insured parties and insurers. Dual Scots and English qualified Harriet Munro leads the practice hand has broad experience handling construction disputes, in addition to D&O claims and defending insurance brokers accountants and media professionals. Graeme MacLeod specialises in solicitor negligence and financial services cases. Shona Frame focuses on construction disputes and has handled a number of professional negligence claims arising from PFI projects. In a high-profile  case at the Supreme Court, McLeod is acting for the insurers of the defunct law firm, Bell & Scott LLP, and one of its former partners, Jane Steel, who was accused of fraudulently misrepresenting, to Northern Rock, information pertaining a loan – a case that was initially dismissed, but was appealed in November 2017.

In addition to coverage of a wide spectrum of professions, DWF has particular expertise in solicitor negligence claims, and represents both insurers and insured firms via the Law Society of Scotland’s professional indemnity master policy panel. ‘Simply one of the best solicitors working in this field in Scotland’, Alison Grant leads the practice and handles a number of high value and complex professional negligence claims against solicitors and advocates. Legal director Lindsay Ogunyemi is ‘very responsive and happy to go the extra mile’, and represents a variety of insurers in connection with claims involving professionals including surveyors, architects, insurance brokers and accountants and regularly advises on complicated coverage issues.

Harper Macleod LLP’s ‘consistently good’ team predominantly acts for individual and corporate claimants pursuing professional negligence claims against banking and financial services, accountancy, surveyor, legal, construction and healthcare professionals. Following the retirement of Rod McKenzie in November 2017, the practice is led by Sandy Hastie who, alongside David Kerr, is noted as ‘very able’ and having ‘impeccable commercial judgement’. Kerr is representing the Shetland Islands Council in a £4.5m construction claim in the Court of Session for professional negligence against the principal contractor and subcontracted engineers who developed the client’s headquarters in Lerwick, which had significant structural problems. Fiona Pask is representing AIB Group in a £2m action against a firm of quantity surveyors who were appointed to act as the client’s project managers in connection with a hotel redevelopment and are alleged to have certified payments to a contractor for works which had not been carried out.

Shepherd and Wedderburn is active in the full range of professional negligence matters for defenders and pursuers, with particular expertise in professional indemnity matters pertaining to accountancy. John MacKenzie represented Ernst & Young as the pursuer against KPMG, the auditor responsible for signing off the accounts of three offshore companies of which the client was the liquidator, in relation to a major suspected fraud in the Isle of Man – a claim that was settled at mediation. The team is led by Alastair Frood, who is an experienced commercial litigator. Iain Drummond specialises in professional indemnity matters arising out of the construction and engineering sectors, and has extensive experience as a mediator. Barbara Bolton is qualified in Scotland, England and New York, and handles a number of complex, cross-border professional negligence claims.

Balfour+Manson LLP is regarded as ‘a safe pair of hands’ and provides an ‘efficient service’ with respect to solicitor negligence cases in negotiations, mediation and litigation. The firm predominantly represents claimants in matters pertaining to the administration of trusts, executries and contentious disputes arising out of litigation, in addition to property-related matters. David Flint leads the team, which includes Gordon Deane and Elaine Motion , both of whom are noted for possessing extensive experience in the area of professional negligence. The group currently represented a US citizen in relation to a potential claim against their accountants for providing wrong advice regarding tax returns for a period of 13 years. Iain Nicol is another key contact.

BLM  acts for a wide range of insurers, brokers, underwriters and reinsurers as well as a number of corporate clients on the defence side, across the spectrum of professional industries. The practice is co-led by flood litigation specialist, David Taylor, and Grant Maclean, who is noted for his ‘long experience, approachability and comprehensive grasp of the issues’. Frank Hughes has extensive experience in solicitor negligence cases, in which he has also acted as an expert witness. Recent highlights include defending an Edinburgh-based chartered accountancy firm in relation to advice it gave to an offshore trust, and a number of cases in relation to allegedly negligent over-valuations by surveyors and other construction professionals.

Burness Paull LLP provides ‘a very high level of service’, predominantly representing claimants. The cross-discipline liabilities practice is led by Ewan McIntyre, whose primary focus is solicitor negligence cases. McIntyre represents Millar & Bryce in connection with numerous claims concerning different transactions. The ‘knowledgeable’ Chris MacKay advised Fife Council in a professional negligence claim against Atkins in relation to professional failures in the design, contract administration and project management of a flood prevention scheme, and in separate proceedings against the council’s former solicitors. The ‘astute and dedicated’ Fenella Mason is also recommended alongside Richard Farndale and Andrew Little, both of whom are ‘hardworking and dedicated’.

DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP’s ‘competent’ team handles professional claims for clients across a wide spectrum of professions and acts for a number of UK professional indemnity insurers. The practice is led by legal director Beverley Atkinson, who is dual Scots and English qualified. The group defended a firm of structural engineers, via Zurich, against a £1.75m claim pertaining to a failed hotel piping system which caused damage to the building; a case that was resolved through ADR. In another highlight, it represented a firm of surveyors in three separate actions raised by a commercial lender, each alleging negligence over the valuation of property, achieving a settlement on all claims on a global basis, with a significant discount.

Dentons' department possesses ‘a depth of knowledge that is difficult to replicate’, and represents a mixture of both claimants and defenders, with particular expertise in claims in the financial services. Its clients include major insurers, including Zurich and Aviva, in addition to individuals and insured businesses. The practice is led by Tim Edward, who is ‘an astute litigator, with a keen grasp of the strategic issues’. ‘Excellent’ senior associate Bruce McCombie predominately represents professionals defending claims of negligence. In a recent highlight, the group successfully defended Pagan Osborne against a claim raised by a former customer in relation to its role in the executory of her late husband’s estate, leading to a full discharge of all claims. It is currently acting for Charles Taylor Insurance Services in defending a claim by liquidators of AGRPA for allegedly negligent advice on a Portfolio Solutions Bond sold under its name.

The team at TLT primarily focuses on professional negligence work arising from the financial services sector; pursuing a range of claims raised by banks and lenders against a variety of professionals. ‘Very able’ John Paul Sheridan leads the practice and employs ‘consistently good commercial judgement and works extremely hard in his clients’ interests’. Sheridan is supported by Karen Cornwell , who has ‘developed an impressive expertise in the professional negligence space’. The group is currently engaged by an international food processing business in two parallel proceedings against a construction company and electrical contractors employed to reconstruct a factory following a fire, and negligently installed a power supply.

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Legal Developments in Scotland for Professional negligence

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