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PI and Civil Litigation

Law - practice - procedure

08 JUN 2015

Procter v Raleys Solicitors [2015] EWCA Civ 400

Procter v Raleys Solicitors [2015] EWCA Civ 400
Professional Negligence - Solicitor - Inadequate advice

Court of Appeal

28 April 2015

Tomlinson, Kitchin and Gloster LJJ

 A law firm had failed to properly advise the claimant about bringing a claim for services.


 The claimant suffered from Vibration White Finger ('VWF') as a result of using tools whilst working as a cool miner. The claimant instructed the defendant to bring his claim under a compensation scheme and the claim settled for the sum of £11,141, including a claim for general damages and handicap on the labour market, but not including a claim for services. The claimant subsequently brought a claim against the defendant for failing to properly advise him about bringing a claim for services, stating that if he had been properly advised, he would have brought such a claim and recovered an additional £11,079.42. The claimant stated that he was not aware he could bring a claim for services as assistance had been gratuitous. At first instance, the claimant was successful and was awarded £5,539.50 as damages for lost opportunity. The defendant were permitted to appeal on whether they were negligent in failing to conduct either a meeting or telephone conversation with the claimant to satisfy themselves that he fully understood the advice which they had tendered in three letters.

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The Court of Appeal found that the written advice to the claimant was unclear and there were clear indications that the advice may have been understood. The defendant had written to the claimant on three occasions about a claim for services. The Court of Appeal stated that the first letter was unclear and the second letter misleading as they did not confirm that the claimant could submit a claim where he was able to do the tasks but with assistance or where he had not made a financial outlay for the services. The Court of Appeal stated that, whilst the third letter did indicate that a claim could be made where there was a reduction in ability carry out tasks, it indicated that a claim could only be made to recover any actual financial close. In response to each of the three letters the claimant completed a tick box form indicating that he did not wish to bring a claim for services. A medical report prepared as part of the claim stated that the claimant was sufficiently affected by VWF that it was presumed that he could not carry out certain domestic tasks without assistance and that the claimant had said that he had problems with gardening. Two file notes had been made by the defendant which referenced a potential service claim. The Court of Appeal found that there were at least two opportunities to advise the claimant on a services claim, including a telephone conversation with the claimant after the third letter had been sent, and this had not been done. The defendant’s appeal was dismissed.


The judgment makes clear the need for standard form letters of advice to be clear and practitioners should ensure their clients are properly advised.

Adam Dyl & Jodee Mayer, Anthony Gold