Thames Chambers Solicitors v Miah  EWHC 1245 (QB);  BPIR 650
(Queen's Bench Division, Tugendhat J, 16 May 2013)
S issued debt proceedings against M shortly before a bankruptcy order was made against S. S later instructed a firm of solicitors, TCS, who represented him thereafter. M's solicitors learned of S's bankruptcy and wrote enquiring about it. TCS responded, expressing surprise at the late request so close to the hearing date, and stating that while they did not understand why a consent letter from the trustee was sought, they had arranged to attend a meeting with S's trustee and the documents would be forwarded in due course. M applied to strike out the claim on the grounds that S had been made bankrupt. It was ordered that S's claim be struck out unless the trustee in bankruptcy consented to the continuation of the case. The trustee assigned the cause of action to S and, no longer having an interest in the claim, and so did not give consent. The proceedings were declared struck out. The judge made a wasted costs order against TCS, on the basis that a solicitor had to be careful, when instructed by a bankrupt, to ensure before any steps in the proceedings were taken that the trustee in bankruptcy consented. Tugendhat J dismissed TCS's appeal. The cause of action had been vested in the trustee and the proceedings were liable to be stayed or struck out because the bankrupt did not have any interest in the property. There was a strong prima facie case that TCS had acted improperly, unreasonably and negligently.
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