International firm Bird & Bird has been ordered to pay £1.8m in damages after a court found it had failed to inform clients buying a London property of a nearby development.

The firm says it is considering an appeal. 

Orientfield Holdings Ltd took out the professional negligence claim against its former solicitors after buying a residential property in the St John’s Wood area for £25m.

The company claimed that Bird & Bird did not advise of a proposed substantial development close to the property which would have negatively affected the use of the house.

Bird & Bird had obtained a planning report revealing the existence of the development, but this was not disclosed and Orientfield signed a contract to buy the property, paying a £2.5m deposit which was forfeited when the transaction fell through. 

The claim was brought to recoup balance of the deposit after a settlement between Orientfield and the vendors.

On Friday, His Honour Judge Mark Pelling, sitting as a judge in the of the High Court, confirmed that Bird & Bird had been under a duty to inform Orientfield of the content of the planning report. Had the company been told of the details it would not have gone ahead with the purchase.

The claim was brought by London firm Wedlake Bell.

Partner David Golten said: ‘Clients rightly expect and should have professional advisers who act diligently to protect their interests. It has been a hard fought claim, and it is excellent that all of Orientfield’s loss has been recovered, including its legal costs.’

In a statement, Bird & Bird said: ‘We are disappointed with the result but we are discussing with our insurers the possibility of an appeal.’

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