A long-running dispute about the rights of a client to sue his former solicitors will come to the Supreme Court later this year. The court confirmed today that it will hear the appeal of defunct claimant firm Raleys Solicitors against the ruling of the Court of Appeal from May 2017.
The dispute is one of many professional negligence claims against solicitors who handled industrial injury cases, with the outcome helping to establish the required burden of proof on claimants as to their potential losses.
South Yorkshire firm Raleys, which is now in administration, had been instructed by former miner Frank Perry in 1996 after he developed a condition known as Vibration White Finger. The claim was pursued against the Department for Trade and Industry, which had assumed the liabilities of Perry’s former employers.
The claim was settled three years later without reference to the cost of day-to-day assistance which Perry would require: subsequently, in 2009 he issued a claim against Raleys seeking damages and alleging negligence in failing to advise him of the possibility of pursuing a services claim.
At trial, Raleys admitted negligence but argued this had not caused Perry any loss. The judge agreed he had not been in a position to pursue a successful services claim honestly and dismissed the claim against the firm.
The Court of Appeal ruled the judge was wrong in his analysis of whether Raleys caused Perry any loss, and made various errors in considering the evidence.
The Supreme Court says it will consider whether a claimant must prove, where a firm negligently fails to advise them of a potential claim, that their former claim would have been honest if it had been made. The court will also consider in which circumstances an appellate court should interfere with a trial judge’s findings of fact. The hearing is due to begin on 27 November.