A £10m negligence claim against a London firm and one of its partners has been thrown out by the High Court, which ruled that it had no jurisdiction to try the claim.
Jury O’Shea LLP, and partner James Patrick O’Shea, were accused of being negligent in dealing with the financial affairs of Giacomino Maggistro-Contenta, a London-based businessman, after his death.
According to the approved judgment, the businessman’s widow claimed that the family’s home in Harley Street, London – which fetched a price of £11.8m – was sold too cheaply by the defendants, and that the proceeds of the sale were sent to the wrong person.
Mrs Maggistro-Contenta also objected to the terms of settlement agreed with a Brunei prince, with whom her late husband had had business dealings.
Chief Master Marsh’s judgment concerned an application from Mrs Maggistro-Contenta seeking an order extending time for service of a claims document, which was delayed because her barrister had recently undergone ‘major gender surgery’ which caused ‘both physical and psychological trauma’.
Marsh concluded that he should review the merits of the claim before deciding whether to grant such an extension.
He said: ‘I am satisfied that the circumstances that arise on the claimant’s application are such that it is right to have regard to the merits of the claim as it is pleaded. The merits of the claim against Mr O’Shea, or rather the lack of merit, are clear without the need for a review of the documents’.
Marsh went on to cite ‘wild allegations’ and evidence that ‘lacks a focus on the issues as they are pleaded and ignores facts that are inconvenient’. Earlier in his judgment, he criticised the claims form, stating it ‘contains everything but the kitchen sink and does so in a rather muddled and confusing way.’
Marsh dismissed the claimant’s application and granted a declaration that the court has no jurisdiction to try the claim.