The Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that a law firm which had been negligent in drawing up a loan facility agreement was not legally responsible for their client’s decision to actually make the loan. The decision has been branded as good news for solicitors, who “no longer appear to be expected to underwrite claimants’ risks and business ventures”.
Only 10% of people with legal problems use a solicitor, and often only after approaching other sources of advice first, major government research involving over 10,000 people has revealed. However, when they did use a solicitor or a barrister, almost all said they were satisfied with the advice provided.
The Court of Appeal has emphatically cleared a solicitor of fraud, expressing “some disquiet” at the trial judge’s findings to the contrary in an oil rig drilling case involving a $129m standby letter of credit. “Different legal minds may obviously take different views” on the legal question at the heart of the case, it said.
A judge has ruled that the advice lawyers gave in ancillary relief proceedings was negligent and that if the claimant had been properly advised, he would have settled on better terms. But he dismissed an allegation that the solicitor had fabricated her file notes.
Claims that the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme does little to actually check the quality of the work solicitors do have been rejected by Chancery Lane. It was reported recently that since the scheme was launched in 2010, assessors have visited only 12 of the 3,000-plus members of the scheme.
The High Court has thrown out a £5m fraud and conspiracy claim against a newly qualified solicitor and experienced legal executive who acted for a Docklands developer. Mr Justice Mann said the pair had suffered “years of anxiety” as a result of the claim, “culminating in a trial which they should not have had”.
In what is being hailed as a significant victory for conveyancers, a law firm and estate agency have defeated a claim brought against them after it turned out that the seller they acted for was a fraudster. The fraud only came to light when the real owner walked past his property and saw builders ripping out the kitchen.
There are high levels of consumer satisfaction with legal services, according to a survey commissioned by the Competition and Markets Authority. However, those who were not happy usually did not bother complaining because it was thought to be too time-consuming or would not achieve much.
The “grandiloquent, rhetorical and at times almost facetious” advocacy style of a criminal defence barrister has no place in modern trials, the Court of Appeal has said. It found the barrister “certainly appears to take a considerable degree of satisfaction in having a style all of his own”.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal against a decision that cleared two solicitors of “dishonest assistance in a breach of trust”, in this case a mortgage fraud. In its decision, the Court of Appeal had warned that findings of dishonesty, especially against solicitors, should not be made without “the most careful consideration” of what they say in their defence.