The Court of Appeal has dismissed a law firm’s attempt to overturn a professional negligence claim for its handling of a retired miner’s case.
Ronald Barnaby, who worked as a miner for more than 17 years, settled his claim for a condition known as vibration white finger (VWF) in 2002 for £10,822. The sum embraced claims for general damages and the handicap to his future work prospects.
But last year in Leeds County Court (pictured) HH Judge Gosnell found negligence on the part of his solicitors, the south Yorkshire firm Raleys, and awarded Barnaby damages of £5,925 on the basis he had a 75% chance of securing extra compensation.
Raleys, which advised more than 12,000 coal miners on VWF claims, argued that the judge was wrong to find a causal connection between the negligence and the failure of the extra services claim.
But the Court of Appeal rejected the appeal, with Lord Justice Maurice Kay saying he was ‘entirely satisfied’ that the judge had correctly assessed the reality behind the litigation.
Raleys had said Barnaby was not suffering from VWF and had never done so. The firm said he had given ‘conflicting information’ as to when his symptoms started and the nature of his symptoms so as to make his claim ‘not believable’.
Kay said there was ‘no doubt’ that during cross-examination it was put to Barnaby that he was pursuing a ‘fraudulent’ claim.
Kay said the approach amounted to a ‘full-frontal attack on Mr Barnaby’s credibility as a witness’.
He added: ‘Solicitors who had encouraged and certainly not discouraged the presentation of a services claim are now seeking to characterise it as misconceived on the basis of material which was irrelevant to it.’
Kay said the appeal was ‘completely unsustainable’ and dismissed it, a decision backed by Lord Justice Davies and Lord Justice Floyd.