Who? Henrietta Dunkley, solicitor, Ellis Jones Solicitors, Christchurch.
Why is she in the news? The firm reclaimed 89% of their gambler client’s net losses from a high street bookmaker. The betting disputes team successfully argued that the betting operator breached the Gambling Commission’s social responsibility code because it failed to protect their client as a vulnerable customer.
Thoughts on the case: ‘I began working on this case towards the end of 2018, when our client got in contact with us as a last resort to try and recoup some of the losses he felt he should have been prevented from incurring with a large gambling operator. It was very quickly clear from the DSAR (data subject access request) documentation that our client had been showing obvious signs of problem gambling for some time, and that there had been a total lack of intervention and/or protection by the gambling operator. In true David and Goliath style, our client decided to pursue the challenge of recovering his losses and, as a result of our hard work, we were [able] to recover £120,000 in compensation for him, a huge 89% of his losses. It was a fantastic achievement for us and a positive outcome for our client.’
Dealing with the media: ‘This case had an interesting background story and was in the very niche area of gambling litigation. It is unusual to hear of a consumer recovering 89% of his/her losses against a large gambling operator, and so the case inevitably attracted interest from local media initially, but very quickly sparked interest on a national level. This had to be handled carefully, as there were agreed restrictions over what information could be given, but it tied in well with Responsible Gambling Week and a positive parliamentary report encouraging more protection for vulnerable gambling customers.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I wanted a career that would continue to challenge me intellectually, and I certainly found one! I enjoy looking for niche areas to build expertise in, alongside the general commercial dispute work, so that I can continue to learn and develop my skills.’
Career high: ‘Achieving an 89% recovery on this case, which was a landmark win in this area for our team. Our client had been through a very difficult and mentally damaging time, and so it was important that we were able to bring some positivity back into his life.’
Career low: ‘It can be challenging dealing with clients who are extremely distressed by their experiences with the gambling or financial sector, whether financially, physically or emotionally. Sometimes, being a litigation lawyer does require me to take on a counselling role, but success in a case makes that even more rewarding.’