Professional negligence in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Brodies LLP took on Tony Jones QC from BTO Solicitors LLP in mid-2018 and also increased its team's partner count during the year with the promotion of 'refreshingly frank' Louise Kelso, an accredited mediator and a specialist in solicitor negligence. The practice, which is led by Alan Calvert and Alisdair Matheson, handles the defence of some of the most important construction claims in Scotland on behalf of engineers, while managing a broader caseload which encompasses solicitor negligence, surveyor negligence and broker negligence across various different sectors, including real estate and corporate, in addition to a range of disputes and employment claims raising issues such as discrimination and equal pay. Jones is one of only three practising civil solicitor advocate QCs in Scotland.

Practice head(s):

Alan Calvert; Alisdair Matheson

Other key lawyers:

Louise Kelso; Tony Jones QC

Testimonials

‘Alan Calvert and Louise Kelso are particularly praiseworthy; they bring calm consideration to the most vexatious of issues.’

‘Alan Calvert takes time to get to know clients and their cases and is a proactive communicator.’

‘In Alisdair Matheson, Brodies has a go-to Scottish construction insurance partner. Alisdair brings an understanding of the insurance market and a level of client engagement that others in Scotland struggle to match. He is knowledgeable, responsive and always on top of the detail.’

‘Great understanding of what we need and ability to meet our requirements at short notice on multiple occasions. Very well resourced.’

‘Great communication and desire to meet our requirements. Brilliant work product at short notice.’

‘The professional negligence team at Brodies is first class. They all work as a genuine team to secure practical solutions for their clients.’

‘Louise Kelso was exceptionally down-to-earth in her personal engagement and to-the-point, both in her accurate assessment of the situation/strengths and weaknesses of a case, and her advice on the correct practical approach to take to solve it.’

Key clients

RSA

Aviva

RBS Group

Zurich

MS Amlin

XL Axa

Allianz

Arch

Manchester Underwriting Management

Faculty of Advocates

Axis

Work highlights

  • Successful avoidance of broker negligence claim arising from declinature of coverage for fire damage at commercial premises.
  • Multi-dispute advice arising from major infrastructure project relating to the improvement of key trunk roads in Scotland.
  • Negligence claim against counsel arising from the settlement of a significant claim against a firm of solicitors.
  • A complex and challenging claim for loss of profit against the quantity surveyor and contract administrator in a development project.

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP’s defendant-focused practice acts for the insurers of architects, accountants, engineers, surveyors, solicitors and construction professionals, as well as insurance brokers. The team has experience dealing with complex multi-party claims in all areas of professional negligence, with recent cases involving aspects such as breach of fiduciary duty and alleged loss of opportunity. Alan Eadie, a qualified mediator, has a track record of acting in multimillion-pound disputes arising from large construction projects and in acting for the master policy insurers in solicitor negligence claims.

Practice head(s):

Alan Eadie; Ashley Mawby

Key clients

RSA Group

Aviva plc

W R Berkley Insurance (Europe) Limited

AIG Europe Limited

RIAS Insurance Scheme

Riverstone Management Ltd (formerly Brit Insurance)

Chubb Insurance Company of Europe SE

Towergate

Markel International

DAS UK Group

Axis Speciality Europe

Allianz

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP's professional negligence practice defends insurers, legal professionals, surveyors and architects in high value claims involving complex elements including alleged fraud or breach of fiduciary duty. The team is led by the dual-qualified Gavin Henderson, who defends claims against construction professionals, accountants and surveyors, and has a strong track record on extremely high-profile cases, assisted by the 'knowledgeable and experienced' Anne Kentish, who specialises in defending claims against legal professionals.

Practice head(s):

Gavin Henderson

Other key lawyers:

Anne Kentish

Testimonials

‘Great capabilities, practical and commercial thinking. Ability to think outside the box when faced with a problem.’

‘Gavin Henderson maintains a good tactical and strategic overview of a case as well as investigating and analysing the details necessary for a successful outcome.’

Work highlights

  • Advised Hiscox on an attempt to overturn a ruling that searchers owe a duty of care to the holder of an inhibition, following  failure by a firm of searchers to register an inhibition on their website blocking the debtor from selling his property until he paid off his debts.
  • Successfully defending a firm of architects in enforcement proceedings following an adjudication arising from alleged defects in a leading boutique hotel.

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP’s pursuer-oriented practice has a remarkably broad client base including private individuals, public bodies, developers, lenders and private companies. The practice has expertise in major construction claims in the public and private sector, internal company disputes involving complex points of law such as liability in a multi-party action, enforcement proceedings against shareholders and lease agreements, and a wide variety of professional negligence matters involving surveyors, accountants, solicitors and IFAs, including fraud and loss of opportunity claims. E-Ming Fong recently succeeded in two separate claims for companies involving contractual disputes.

Practice head(s):

Sandy Hastie; David Kerr

Other key lawyers:

E-Ming Fong; Fiona Pask

Testimonials

‘The team has a great mix of technical ability and people skills. They have great lawyers across the board from partner down to newly qualified solicitors. They are very very experienced across a whole range of professionals but are particularly good when it comes to solicitor negligence.’

‘Fiona Pask leads with distinction at all times.’

‘Sandy Hastie and Fiona Pask are very impressive partners at the firm. They are excellent at managing client expectations but, similarly, they give details and well-thought through instructions.’

‘Laura McCorquodale is a very talented senior associate at the firm. She is an experienced and detail-oriented litigator who is an enviable mix of personable and technically-minded. Andrew Mackenzie is similarly an excellent senior associate who gives very good advice to clients and is particularly good when it comes to devising tactics for the running of the case. Both Laura and Andrew are both rising stars.’

Key clients

Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

AIB Group (UK) plc

Shetland Islands Council

Sandringham Court Ltd

Montbank (Loanhead) Limited

Broxburn Motorzone Ltd

Saga Group Plc

Arc Legal Assistance Limited

Work highlights

  • Secured £1.15m settlement for AIB Group (UK) plc from a firm of quantity surveyors who had been appointed to act as the bank’s ‘project monitors’ in connection with the redevelopment of a former hotel complex in Aberdeen.
  • Acting for Shetlands Islands Council in a £4.5m construction claim in the Court of Session for damages for professional negligence against the principal contractor and subcontracted engineers who developed SIC’s headquarters in Lerwick.
  • Instructed by the Scottish Legal Complains Commission to respond to eight appeals brought before the Inner House of the Court of Session, in respect of allegations of professional negligence and inadequate professional services.
  • Represented the Habeebs at the Financial Ombudsman Service and have now raised proceedings in the Court of Session in relation to an action against their former IFA for damages for fraud, breach of contract and negligence.

BLM

BLM predominantly acts on the defendant side, with particular strength representing insurers in construction disputes and additional expertise handling solicitor negligence claims, including claims of fraudulent misrepresentation. The firm also advises on cases involving negligent tax advice and equal pay disputes. Solicitor advocate David Taylor has niche expertise in flood litigation and broad knowledge of policy coverage disputes.

Practice head(s):

David Taylor; Grant Maclean

Testimonials

‘The team displayed excellent understanding and empathy during my dealings with them.’

CMS

CMS ’ professional indemnity team primarily acts for engineers involved in major construction projects, while also handling high value solicitor negligence clams and defending a wide variety of clients on behalf of insurers, including administrators and major banks. The dual qualified Harriet Munro - 'a market leading partner' with 'judgement that is second-to-none' works alongside fellow partner Graeme MacLeod and a strong bench of associates, including Davina Cowden and Rowena Williams.

Practice head(s):

Harriet Munro; Graeme MacLeod

Other key lawyers:

Davinia Cowden; Rowena Williams

Testimonials

‘Capable at every level. Legally sound and engaged. Highly commercial. Hardworking with a strong team mentality. Deep understanding combined with a real empathy for professionals. A package unmatched by other firms.’

‘Collegiate in their approach, combining various skill sets and specialist expertise required in complex litigation.’

Harriet Munro is a market leading partner who has received insufficient recognition. She has judgement which is second to none, based on a deep understanding of insurer clients and their needs and interests. A total star.’

‘Harriet Munro is a tenacious litigator.  Extremely hands-on and user friendly.’

‘Rowena Williams is a standout associate. Calm, authoritative and confident. Brilliant at getting to grips with legal arguments and huge volumes of evidence.’

Key clients

AIG

Chubb/ACE

Liberty Syndicate

Markel International

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group

Novae Group plc

QBE

RSA

WR Berkley

XL Catlin

AXA

Work highlights

  • Acting in a Supreme Court case which tested the issue of solicitors’ duties to third parties, and achieving a successful outcome for RSA, the lead insurer of the former firm of solicitors Bell & Scott.
  • Successfully defending Bracewell Stirling Consultants in a claim intimated against them by Midlothian Council for damages following the discovery of elevated levels of carbon dioxide at a housing site in Gorebridge.

DWF

DWF handles a high proportion of all professional negligence claims against solicitors in Scotland, owing in large part to its position on the Law Society of Scotland’s Professional Indemnity Master Policy. The team is headed up by Alison Grant, 'one of the best and most experienced lawyers in the field of professional negligence in Scotland'. 'Tenacious litigator' Lindsay Ogunyemi is frequently instructed by large insurers to handle claims against surveyors, brokers, accountants and construction professionals, while associate Andrew McConnell regularly handles high value, complex claims with an increasing focus on the construction sector.

Practice head(s):

Alison Grant

Other key lawyers:

Lindsay Ogunyemi; Andrew McConnell

Testimonials

‘Highly professional and pragmatic team; good early understanding of the issues.’

‘Alison Grant and her team display a highly professional yet practical approach to getting matters resolved while protecting the client’s best interests.’

‘Alison Grant is excellent and leads an experienced and helpful team giving expert and pragmatic advice in a helpful, user friendly manner.’

‘A leading team in this market. Alison Grant is quite simply one of the best and most experienced lawyers in the field of professional negligence in Scotland. Her team members are hard-working, knowledgeable in the law and rightly instill confidence in insurers and insured alike.’

‘Alison Grant is a top class lawyer who delivers expert advice in a helpful manner based on her long years of experience in this field.’

‘Alison Grant has unrivalled knowledge of the nature and number of claims which arise against solicitors in Scotland. She has handled every possible type of claim. She is wholly pragmatic in her approach.’

Key clients

RSA

Pinpoint

Arch

Allied World

Pen Underwriting

Zurich

Chaucer

Novae

Starr Underwriting

QBE

Travellers

Work highlights

  • Acted for RSA and their insured in the defence of a claim brought by the widow of a soldier who sought damages on the basis that she was given negligent advice about the consequences of remarrying in terms of her entitlement to compensation from the US Government.
  • Settled a claim brought by a commercial lender against RSA and their insured solicitors alleging breaches of the CML Handbook in relation to eleven property transactions, using complex prescription arguments to reach a settlement for one third of the original claim value.
  • Defending RSA and their insured solicitors in a high value professional negligence claim brought by a former client of the solicitors who discovered upon purchasing commercial premises that the solicitors had failed to send the disposition registering title of the subjects to the keeper.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn is a leading pursuer of solicitor negligence claims arising out of alleged mortgage fraud and breaches of the CML Handbook during property transactions, demonstrated by the firm’s roles on several high value cases for lenders and liquidators in recent months. The practice also acts for pursuers and defenders in construction disputes across various different sectors, including renewable energy, roadworks, and private and public sector projects. Banking and finance litigation head Alastair Frood has a particular focus on profession negligence, while Elaine Brailsford brings 25 years’ experience in litigation and dispute resolution to the team.

Practice head(s):

Alastair Frood

Other key lawyers:

Elaine Brailsford

Key clients

Lochaber Properties Ltd

Ernst & Young LLC

Work highlights

  • Acting on professional negligence action against Lochaber Properties Ltd’s former solicitors, involving complex lease arrangements that were devised by the solicitors to the detriment of the claimant’s ability to generate income through a sub-lease.
  • Acted for Ernst & Young as liquidator in a multimillion-dollar fraud case, alleging breach of trust and dishonest assistance, and achieved a settlement against two defenders following a successful appeal in the Court of Session.
  • Acting in a professional negligence and breach of contract claim on behalf of Aggreko plc.

TLT

TLT 's practice has notable expertise in the financial services sector, acting for a string of big-name banks and other lenders. Practice head John Paul Sheridan leads on all matters concerning solicitor and surveyor negligence and carries out his own advocacy in the Court of Session; he also has expert knowledge of prescription issues, having previously provided evidence to the Scottish Parliament on the matter. The practice also pursues claims for individuals against their former solicitors and acts for claimants in construction disputes.

Practice head(s):

John Paul Sheridan

Testimonials

‘A hard-hitting and committed team with a depth of experience in professional negligence and liability disputes.’

 

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group

UKAR

BT plc

EON plc

Heineken

Brewdog

Target Group

Virgin Money

Landmark Mortgages

RBS

Work highlights

  • Acting in two parallel claims against electrical engineers and a construction company following a fire at a food processing factory.
  • Pursuing a claim on behalf of one partner in a separation action, where their former solicitors failed to raise proceedings within the time limit for an unequal split of assets, causing loss of opportunity for the client.

Balfour+Manson LLP

Balfour+Manson LLP act for pursuers in claims against their solicitors, accountants, co-workers and private companies. The firm also handles unusual multi-party disputes, claims arising from negligent tax advice and pension-related matters. Iain Nicol, who is accredited in professional negligence and personal injury, drafted the Professional Negligence Pre Action Protocol and recently, through representations to the Law Society, secured an increase in the fees payable under the protocol.

Practice head(s):

David Flint

Other key lawyers:

Iain Nicol

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP's professional negligence practice works on both the pursuer and defender side of claims across a range of sectors, focusing on corporate clients rather than panel appointments for insurers. The team excels in particular in the realm of construction, receiving instructions from major firms of architects and engineers in high value cases, while also represents public bodies. Ewan McIntyre is lead partner for the firm's cross-discipline liabilities practice, which encompasses the professional negligence team, while Chris MacKay, who is has dual expert accreditation in both construction and arbitration, has niche expertise in disputes concerning harbours and ports.

Practice head(s):

Ewan McIntyre

Other key lawyers:

Chris Mackay

Testimonials

‘The team displays an out of the ordinary concentration on identifying and pursuing the client’s interests in the circumstances of each case.’

Key clients

Millar & Bryce Limited

Fife Council

John Graham Construction Limited

Trustees of the Elliot of Harwood Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising Fife Council in a high value professional negligence claim against Atkins Limited relative to their responsibilities as engineers on a flood prevention scheme.
  • Act for searching company Millar & Bryce in connection with professional indemnity claims against them brought by users of their service.
  • Acting for John Graham Construction in a seven-figure professional negligence claim against Scott Wilson Scotland Limited in relation to the design of the drainage system in a new high school.

Dentons

Dentons acts for both pursuers and defenders on a variety of claims concerning solicitors and financial services experts. The practice, which benefits from its appointment to the Law Society of Scotland’s Pursuers’ Advisory Panel, is led by Tim Edward, who advises some of the leading insurers in the market.

Practice head(s):

Tim Edward

Key clients

Zurich Insurance

Aviva Insurance

Rieuneau Avocats

Cousin Biotech SA

Beazley Insurance

Work highlights

  • Acting for Beazley Insurance and its insured Priority Investigations in defending a potential claim for defective service of proceedings.
  • Successfully defended a claim by a solicitor against Scottish law firm Pagan Osborne arising from its role in the executry of her late husband’s estate.