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You Need a Lawyer to Help Make Those Knife-Edge Decisions

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

Litigation is often an exercise in brinksmanship and the need to make knife-edge decisions under pressure is one very good reason why advice from experienced professionals frequently makes the difference between victory and defeat.

One case exactly on point concerned a seven-figure professional negligence claim by a bank against a firm of chartered surveyors. The bank’s claim that it had lent money to a developer in reliance on the firm’s negligent advice was rejected by the High Court. Even had the firm been negligent, the Court found that the cause of the loss was the bank’s own decision to lend the money and the failure of its employees to adhere to its lending rules. The Court was highly critical of the evidence given by a quantity surveyor who had testified on behalf the bank.

Only after delivering its decision was the Court informed that, prior to the trial, the bank had turned down three pre-trial offers to settle the case. The highest offer made by the firm was just under £545,000, including costs. By persisting in the litigation, the bank had in the end come away with nothing and, in the circumstances, it was ordered to pay the firm’s legal costs, some of them on the punitive indemnity basis. Pending final assessment of those costs, the Court ordered the bank to pay £326,760 on account.

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