Professional negligence in South West
Burges Salmon LLP focuses on claimant-side professional negligence work, advising private clients, corporates and financial institutions on claims against their professional advisers in relation to errors that have resulted in loss. Andrew Burnette leads the department, specialising in claims against solicitors, auditors and financial services professionals. Justin Briggs is noted for pensions negligence work. Also a pensions dispute expert, Suzanne Padmore acts for trustees and employers in high-value claims.
‘Justin Briggs and Suzanne Padmore are both excellent and among my favourite instructing solicitors.’
‘Big enough to matter. Aggressive in a creative way. Very professional.’
‘Burges Salmon has an excellent professional negligence practice, sitting within their very good commercial litigation team. They are a first rate firm – clearly the top dog in the South West, and, in my view, a very good national firm.’
‘Andrew Burnette is the standout name. He heads up the professional negligence team and is an excellent litigator. Excellent legal instincts and excellent commercial insight into his clients’ businesses, mean that he really understands what they want to achieve and how to achieve it.’
Financial Services Compensation Scheme
Nationwide Building Society
- Negotiated a settlement for clients in their claim against professional advisers for losses suffered by a scheme arising out of the discovery that its governing deeds were defective due to invalid execution.
- Representing the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in a case concerning the collapse of a development company offering off-plan timeshares in a hotel development in St Lucia.
- Advising on a large portfolio of claims arising from debts in the Nationwide commercial lending book. These cases concerned negligent advice provided by surveyors and solicitors in connection with commercial property transactions. The total value of recoveries at the time of going to press in respect of these claims amounted to approximately £35m.
Clarke Willmott LLP acts for national and international corporates in both claimant and uninsured defendant matters. The group is co-led by 'very astute' Alex Jakubowski, whose practice consists of pursuing claims against solicitors, accountants, tax advisers, auditors, valuers and surveyors, with particular expertise in lender claims.'An operator with real class', Philippa Hann, who also co-leads the group, specialises in financial services cases, acting for claimants who have been misadvised on investments.
‘The team is very focused on getting the right outcome for the client. They don’t posture, they are down to earth and get the job done.’
‘This is a high quality outfit outside of London but engaged in heavy commercial and professional negligence litigation.’
‘Alex Jakubowski is a pleasure to deal with and very astute.’
‘Philippa Hann is an operator with real class – always calm and strategic no matter what the circumstances are. She has the confidence to select a litigation team and to trust them to execute the plan, providing support as and when necessary.’
Lloyds Bank plc
Wellesley Finance Plc
GWE Business West
- Representing Wellesley Finance plc in a £4.5m claim by p2p lender against project monitoring surveyor Currie and Brown
- Representing RQ Capital in a claim against Robertson Simpson for £7.5m
- Acting in multi-party claim for negligence and fraudulent breach of trust arising from solicitors’ involvement in an off plan scam
Led from London by Ed Foss, the Bristol office of CMS excels in insurance coverage disputes and professional negligence claims. The professional indemnity group acts for global insurers in cases against construction professionals, solicitors, accountants, financial services and trust fund professionals. Cheryl Gibson is an expert in advising construction professionals, although also regularly handles disputes involving brokers, project managers and surveyors. Zoe Burge is often called upon by insurers in policy coverage issues related to directors and officers (D&O) insurance and the financial services. Promoted to partner in May 2019, Robert Jones handles claims against surveyors and insurance brokers.
‘The team provided prompt, professional and pragmatic advice on professional indemnity matters. Their robust drafting helped to avoid inappropriate escalation and exposed the weaknesses in the claimant’s case.‘
‘Robert Jones and associate Georgie Baxter are very responsive and deal with matters promptly and effectively.‘
Acapella Syndicate 2014
AEGIS Managing Agency
W R Berkley Insurance (Europe)
- Defending an international engineer and its insurers in a £20m complex litigation involving multiple parties concerning the construction of a large abattoir.
- Defending a firm of solicitors and its insurers in a multi-million-pound claim relating to inheritance tax advice. It involves niche and complex areas of tax and professional negligence law and will test the application of existing precedent law.
- Defending a major broker against a claim concerning the placement of run-off cover relating to a $5m dispute.
DAC Beachcroft LLP
The professional negligence team at DAC Beachcroft LLP acts for major insurers and professional services firms, defending a variety of claims nationally. The group is able to draw on firmwide expertise in D&O and legal indemnity insurance, as well as education-related claims (an area in which legal director Kylie Poyner has developed a solid practice). Marcus Campbell, who specialises in defending claims against insurance brokers, jointly leads the department alongside Caroline Cherry, an expert in representing professional and financial lines insurers and their insured parties. Charlie Bending co-leads the national surveyors service line, and is instructed by major national and international property consultants, while Helen Staines is noted for handling solicitors' negligence and title indemnity insurance claims.
‘Always helpful and engaging, Marcus Campbell provides a thoughtful and tailored approach to client service and is open to innovative ways to resolve both claims and other issues faced by clients, always staying on top of the detail.’
‘The individuals I have the pleasure of working with at DACB are always on hand to advise us day or night. The advice provided is always clear and thorough and delivered in a way that is understood.’
‘Charlie Bending and Graham Briggs are incredibly knowledgeable in their field, very approachable and always happy to assist us.’
Aviva Insurance (Corporate & Specialty Risks)
Zurich Financial Services
Markel International Insurance Company
- Acted for Hugh James Ford Simey solicitors and Libra Managers on behalf of QBE in a solicitor negligence claim alleging under-settlement of a miner’s vibration white finger claim. The team defended the solicitor and won at first instance.
- Represented Aviva and Housing Solutions in a legal indemnity claim concerning restrictive covenants on development land. Won in the property tribunal and covenants were modified to permit the development.
- Represented an insurance company and a mechanical and electrical engineering business as one of two defendants who contracted with a national supermarket chain to install a refrigeration system. Defending the clients against a claim that the systems are corroding and not fit for purpose.
RPC's department takes a sector-focused approach to professional negligence, with one group focusing on the solicitor, accountant, financial and pensions professions, and another that handles claims involving surveyors and construction professionals. The department is led by Simon Laird, who splits his time between London and Bristol. Rhian Howell is noted for defending claims against lawyers, as is Will Sefton. Robert Morris leads on defending claims against financial professionals. Rachael Healey was promoted to partner in May 2019, and is an expert in defending pensions professionals and solicitors, as well as acting in policy coverage disputes. Jeremy Barnes retired from the group in August 2019.
‘Somehow, the firm manages to do everything. They deliver the quality of work you would expect while still being available to build relationships and answer questions.’
‘Very good quality of juniors. Vast array of knowledge. Personable. No issues with being challenged. Feel like you are working with them rather than a client-lawyer relationship.’
‘They listen to feedback (and are eager for any you can provide) but more than that they actually deliver on change.’
- Advised Sense Network in its successful defence to the Court of Appeal, including on the precedent-setting issue of the scope of a financial services network’s liability for its appointed representative’s acts.
- Acting for Italian law firm in large, multiparty, multi-jurisdictional litigation and disciplinary proceedings, relating to the purchase of off plan properties.
- Acting for the trustee in bankruptcy in successfully striking out a £8.5m claim.
Beale & Co's Bristol office is entirely focused on professional negligence, defending insurance companies and their policy-holders in the construction, legal and financial sectors. The group is led by Joe Eizenberg , who one client notes 'provides early succinct commercial advice on complex issues'. Giles Tagg specialises in representing construction professionals, while Joe Bryant, who joined from RPC in February 2020, defends lawyers and insurance brokers.
‘Responsive, capable and knowledgeable. They are structured in such a way as to provide a truly responsive and speedy response, which is key for the work that we do. The team has a wide breadth of specialisms and work is conducted by people who truly are specialists in their field.’
‘The team is focused on insurance and, in particular, professional negligence which means they are able to handle any professional negligence matter.‘
‘Joe Eizenberg is the standout partner. Ability to be professional but personable at the same time which makes working with him a pleasure. Engages with me at the right level.’
‘Joe Eizenberg provides early succinct commercial advice on complex issues which makes everything more straightforward from the start.’
AmTrust Europe and AmTrust International Underwriters
Aspen Risk Management
Tokio Marine HCCI
- Defending a firm of civil/structural engineers in a litigated multi-party multi-million GBP construction dispute.
- Acting for a firm of accountants in high court proceedings concerning the insolvency of a company.
- Providing pre-dispute advice in relation to defects on a three-year infrastructure project comprising transport infrastructure and utilities.
Predominantly on the defence side, the team at Clyde & Co handles claims against solicitors, brokers and financial, pensions and construction professionals, through a wide variety of insurers. The group is jointly led by John Eastlake and Ian Peacock, both of whom specialise in solicitors claims. Senior associate Toby Rouse is another practitioner of note, and focuses on financial services and pensions-related claims.
‘Very experienced and down to earth team.’
‘Ian Peacock- a wise head.’
DWF's professional indemnity team is regularly instructed by high-profile insurers of professional firms and corporate defendants to advise and represent them in relation to claims against them. The group is particularly experienced in cases involving accountants, solicitors, surveyors, architects and engineers. Practice head Simon Mason 's knowledge and expertise in the financial services sector is noted by one client as 'second to none.' Alexandra Cartwright is noted for handling claims brought against construction professionals.
‘Excellent work, knowledgeable, pro-active in problem solving to achieve best outcomes, and persistent and timeous.’
‘The team provide excellent advice in a very cost effective manner. The team is able to deal with professional negligence claims against a wide scope of different professions.’
‘Simon Mason is a very personable individual. His knowledge and expertise in defending professional negligence claims against accountants, actuaries, IFAs and other financial professionals is second to none.’
- Investigating a large fraud by the insured’s former employee, and defending various professional negligence, breach of trust, and Housing Act 2004 claims against the insured, utilising DWF Forensic.
- Defended court proceedings bought against solicitors by a victim a fraud (c£1.7m). Obtained a summary judgment for the client and now pursuing a costs recovery from the claimant.
- Settled a £17m professional negligence claim by a developer against the insured quantity surveyor in a multi-party construction dispute.
The group at Michelmores LLP handles claimant- and defendant-side claims for a variety of professionals, including financial services providers, architects, chartered surveyors, solicitors, accountants, valuers and receivers. The department is led by senior associate Fiona Pearson, who has experience in defending claims against professionals and advising insurers on coverage issues. Ben Sharples specialises in acting on both sides of agricultural-related professional negligence claims, while Jennifer Ridgway is noted for claims involving personal tax professionals.
‘Michelmores’ strength is the extent to which it coordinates its professional negligence team with its other departments.’
‘The team provides an extremely high quality and efficient client service.’
‘Fiona Pearson is an excellent lawyer, her valuable experience on the ‘professional insurer’ side is put to great use on the claimant side. A good instinct about whether claims are viable and wonderful client handling skills, particularly good at reassuring difficult clients.’
Cancer Research UK
Landmark Information Group
Key areas of expertise for the 'client-friendly' professional negligence team at Osborne Clarke, which acts for both claimants and defendants, are the pensions, accountancy, financial services, construction and property professions. The group has also developed a niche in cases involving the valuation of artwork, where 'superb' group leader Tom Ellis stands out. Promoted to partner in 2019, Charles Crowne specialises in financial sector claims, while senior associate Katherine King is noted for pensions claims.
‘Very pragmatic support. Understand the pressures faced by in-house lawyers and work with that to provide tailored and client-friendly advice without all the unnecessary fluff.‘
‘Tom Ellis and Katherine King are experienced and capable professional negligence practitioners.’
‘The team has a good profile for professional liability work, particularly defending claims against accountants, auditors and tax advisers. They are led by the superb Tom Ellis.’
‘Tom Ellis is very experienced in his field. Makes clients feel like they are his number one priority.’
Clerical Medical Investment Group Limited
Bank of Ireland and the Trustees of the Bank of Ireland Pension Plan
The Trustees of the Grant Thornton Pension Scheme
Led by Neil Franklin, the group at TLT has particular experience advising on professional negligence claims in the financial services sector, but also advises property, tax, pensions and construction professionals. The team is well integrated into the firm's other practices and regularly works alongside the banking litigation department.
‘Neil Franklin is very well-informed about claims for financial institutions such as mortgage lenders, and very astute in considering tactical issues.‘
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (including Royal Bank of Scotland plc and National Westminster Bank plc)
Lloyds Banking Group
The Northview Group
Avon Rubber plc
- Resolved a £15m property development claim involving a bank’s panel firm, that had negligently failed to register all the bank’s interests, including a cross guarantee with a related property development company.
- Acted for a loan administrator in relation to a portfolio of BTL Loans, where there was underlying borrower fraud. Pursuing a solicitor litigant in person allegedly complicit in the fraud, who had insurance coverage issues and was a discharged bankrupt. There was also a linked valuer negligence claim.
- Currently instructed to advise on a fraud allegedly perpetrated by an investment company (and in particular by one director) on a group of investors in relation to a property investment scheme. This involves a complex professional negligence claim against a firm of solicitors that was acting for a number of related parties.
Ashfords LLP's lawyers have expertise acting for banks in claims against surveyors, solicitors and project managers. The group also has a niche in representing bloodstock clients in claims against vets and other industry professionals. The group is jointly led by Rory Mac Neice, a veterinary professional negligence specialist, and Victoria Bonnet, whose focus is claims related to property.
‘Highly professional, dedicated and tenacious, with in depth knowledge of the area and underlying subject matter.’
‘I found them thoroughly well-informed, professional, informative, yet at ease. They spelt out to me clearly the validity of my case in terms of my local firm’s negligence, giving me the option to move forward, with clear detail of procedure, timescale, expectations and anticipated costs.’
‘Victoria Bonnet is very dynamic and effective, she has a good feel for risks and merits and works well with counsel too.’
Rory Mac Neice is a natural litigator, with strong tactical awareness, who keeps his eye on the best interests of his clients.’
Lloyds Bank plc
Bank of Scotland plc
Exeter City Council
- Acting for Exeter City Council in a multi-million-pound claim against a firm of architects regarding the restoration and extension of a museum.
- Advising the lender on a high-value professional negligence claim against a national firm of surveyors relating to the overvaluation of multiple units of a commercial property.
- Advising the owner of a valuable racehorse in respect of a claim against a veterinary hospital in connection with the death of the horse, whilst under the care of the vets.
The group at Kennedys stands out for handling construction-sector claims, particularly on the defence side. Following the departure of four lawyers, including former practice head Sarah Cornish to Plexus Law, the firm brought in policy coverage and D&O insurance expert Helen Ager from DAC Beachcroft LLP to lead the department. Mark Skinner is another name to note for large loss liability work, while senior associate Joanna Makin has developed a niche in defending universities in civil and regulatory matters, in addition to dealing with policy coverage issues.
‘Very knowledgeable about construction matters.’
Dual Corporate Risks
Lester Aldridge LLP's professional negligence team acts predominantly on the claimant side, representing clients in claims against solicitors, accountants, financial advisers and surveyors, as well as drawing on the firm's wider expertise to handle cases involving marine surveyors. The department is led from Bournemouth by Kate Stewart.
‘I think Chris Evans is very good: straightforward, wins clients over, experienced in the prof neg arena and fights hard to get the best outcome he can.’
Stephens Scown LLP
The team at Stephens Scown LLP frequently represents claimants in conveyancing matters, an area of particular expertise, as well as advising in inheritance and trust-related professional negligence claims. Catherine Matthews heads the team in Exeter, and specialises in bringing claims against solicitors and barristers, while Toby Claridge leads the Truro group, with experience in multi-party claims. In 2019, the team was joined by Richard Bagwell and senior associate Tracy Bailey from Foot Anstey, adding expertise in property-related professional negligence claims.
Other key lawyers:
‘The whole team at Stephens Scown are incredibly approachable and easy to deal with. Their strengths lie in being good with people, both clients and opponents alike.’
‘The service I received from Catherine Mathews and her team, was incredible. Nothing was too much trouble, which made me feel confident that they would do their best for me.’
‘I would recommend Catherine Matthews and Richard Slater. They are very pragmatic and with a keen focus on identifying the client’s best interests and the best way of getting there.’
VWV's professional negligence team acts on the claimant and defendant side of claims against solicitors, surveyors and valuers, with particular expertise in the corporate, charity, insolvency and real estate sectors. Ed Husband heads the department, and is able to draw on significant insolvency expertise. Commercial litigator and reputation management specialist Ben Holt has developed a solid practice in claims involving the negligent administration of pension funds, and Nick Martindale, promoted to partner in November 2019, has experience in negligence claims in the insolvency context.
‘The team comprises individually strong members who as a whole are greater than the sum of their parts, bringing different skills and background experience.’
‘Personal contact. Obviously very knowledgeable, but also very aware of client issues and potential consequences of action/advice.’
‘Nick Martindale is very bright and commercial’
‘Ben Holt thinks very tactically and foresees potential difficulties and addresses them early on, to the client’s benefit.’
‘Very aware of the factors that influence the client and make every attempt to cover these within the advice provided. Nick Martindale was very committed to obtaining an acceptable outcome specifically, and was always available throughout the process.’
- Acting on behalf of a local borough council in a £5m claim against its former professional advisers
- Have acted for Platform on a very large number of professional negligence claims against solicitors and valuers for many years
- Pursuing a £1m claim against project managers on behalf of a local wholesaler/manufacturer
The professional risks group at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP sits within the insurance disputes team nationally, and handles claims for insurers and their policyholders. The group is particularly noted for negligence claims involving legal professionals. From Southampton, James Robins takes the lead on professional indemnity matters in the south west, with experience representing high-profile professional services firms. In Bristol, managing associate Zoe Lettieri specialises in professional risks and coverage disputes.
‘James Robins – has very good judgement.’
‘The South West offering has reduced over the past couple of years as a result of movements / reductions in insurer panels and the departure of a couple of partners but the quality of the offering still appears strong.’
AIG Europe (UK)
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund