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.
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.