Mishcon de Reya fights off £5m negligence claim by ex-QPR owner

Topics: City,Law firm & practice management,Courts business,Professional negligence

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International firm Mishcon de Reya has defeated a £5m professional negligence claim against it by the former chair of football club Queens Park Rangers.

Antonio Caliendo alleged that Mishcon de Reya had breached its duty to him by not advising him properly on the sale of his stake in QPR to Italian businessman Flavio Briatore and Formula 1 owner Bernie Ecclestone.

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Caliendo sold his 27.5% shareholding through Barnaby Holdings in September 2007. His claim was also submitted on behalf of former QPR director Franco Zanotti who sold his 19.9% stake in the club at the same time through Wanlock LLC.

Caliendo argued that Mishcon had failed to include a term in the deal which would have given him a £2m pay-out if QPR had made it into the Premier League, which it did. He also said the deal failed to make provision for the repayment of debts by QPR to third parties, leaving him with the liability of £1m.

The claimants said that together they expected to have received £2.5m of shares and partial repayments of loans Caliendo made to the club. Instead they received £485,488.

But Mishcon de Reya said it was acting for QPR rather than the claimants during the sale, and said they had not suffered any loss in any event.

Sitting in the High Court, The Honourable Mr Justice Arnold dismissed the claim against the firm. He said that although Mishcon de Reya had a limited duty of care towards the claimants, the firm was never explicitly or implicitly instructed to act on their behalf.

The judge concluded that although it was not formally instructed and was not a law firm, tax firm T&F Group had acted for the claimants in the sale, meaning that Mishcon de Reya was not under any duty to explain the sale agreement to the claimants because it was entitled to assume T&F Group would do so.

The judge also found that at the time of the sale QPR did not owe money to the third parties, and, if it did, they were not guaranteed by Caliendo. 

He concluded that Mishcon de Reya had not breached its duty and that the claimants had not suffered any loss.

Readers' comments (11)


  • Is it me, or are High Court Judgements becoming increasingly long-winded...?

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  • They most definitely are, Marshall. If you look at some of the older cases, Carlill v. Carbolic Smokeball Co., L'Estrange v. Graucob, etc etc they were only a few pages long. And the tables of cases cited were much shorter. Nowadays the table of cases cited is just like looking something up in The Digest on line. Every case ever argued on a subject anywhere in the Commonwealth seems to be quoted.

    And at least half of today's cases manage to drag in the HRA!

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  • True David - the case seems to have been decided in the introduction when the Judge basically said that he couldn't believe anything the Claimants asserted - so why was there a need for such a painful recitation of the 'Facts' when ultimately they were irrelevant to his decision...?

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  • Judges are so paranoid about being appealed because the losing party says "you never mentioned our letter of 38th Martober, so your entire ruling is suspect" that they throw everything in.

    There's much to be said for the old way of having the submissions laid out first and then the judgment. So we can ignore the boring bits and go straight to the moneyshot.

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  • May I put in a respectful word for the judge?

    There are many reasons why judgments may be getting longer - but, perhaps, not prolix.

    Evidence. The first is the ubiquity of emails, Twitter, face book etc as a cascade of chatter, without the witness statements, letters, formal documents etc etc.. The second is the complexity of arguments deployed, with the addition of experts in every topic known, or suspected, to man. Trial bundles thousands of pages in length.

    Then the issues raised are more numerous/imaginative. And it is no use the judge deciding that one is to be decided and ignoring the rest. The appeal will rightly point out those issues upon which no finding was made and seek to undermine the one finding (by associating the failure with it) and so upset the result.

    There is an obligation to spell out all the reasons in the judgment. The winner won't thank you for your care, or brevity, and it is easy for winners in such circumstances to wonder what the fuss was about; losers won't for some reason see it that way. Complete judgments avoid appeals and, in particular, re-trials.

    This case took 10 days. I've not found a reference to bundle size. But my experience of heavyish AR and building disputes leads me to suspect eye watering. The law had to be addressed - I got as far as inferences from not calling evidence.

    David, to go to the Smokeball, this was an appeal to the HoL, so no need for factual analysis. Opinions are quite long, and all say much the same. These days appellant courts try to do with one. The first instance judgment seems to have been longer - there is a whiff of Law Lordly disdain.

    But if, ignoring the legal principles at stake, it had gone to trial now. Issues - fraudulent - no balls were bought/used. No influenza - at all or actual - Twitter/Facebook, experts etc etc. Say 3or 4 days of evidence? Unless it was Small Claim! All to be resolved with cogent reasons.

    In another context/case - was there a snail on the bottle? Determine in 2016 litigation circumstances.

    There may be a case for requiring/limiting parties to, say, 3 issues in all but exceptional cases without reference to value. And here we should remember that the allegation was one of professional negligence.

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  • Thanks for that interesting post, Richard. Maybe electronic search engines are largely to blame? Or, is it the fact that we are all so scared of being sued for failing to mention some Bloemfontein County Court decision of 1900?

    My son, who lives and works in Glasgow, tells me that lawyers pass through on a sort of pilgrimage to that cafe in Paisley. Heaven help us if a case on 'who is my neighbour' goes to the SC with all the references to Donoghue v. Stephenson that would have to be cited.

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  • "In another context/case - was there a snail on the bottle?"

    Thought Donoghue was a preliminary issue - as the case settled nobody ever found out whether there was a snail in there or not. So again no factual evidence.

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  • Was it denied that there was one, Scep Tick?

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  • Exactly, David.

    In practice and later I was always told win/find on the facts.

    No defendant today would fight DvS on agreed facts.

    Issues raised by defendant.

    Not probable a snail could get into the bottling plant/bottle

    Snail was edible and not harmful

    Remains if decomposed could not result from immersion in ginger beer

    Claimants symptoms inconsistent with decomposed snail ingestion

    Therefore fraud

    Etc.

    Claimant would have to prove a positive case.

    Documents, Twitter, mobile phone logs, experts in bottling, snails, gastroenterology, and more and more. 10 day trial.

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  • And what about Princess Diana's will? Why exactly was that amended in a secret hearing? Mishcon's got anything to say on that topic?

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