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Bird & Bird has lost its appeal to overturn a professional negligence ruling that saw its former client win £1.8m in damages in 2015.
The case surfaced in 2014 after British Virgin Islands company Orientfield Holdings brought a claim against its former solicitors in relation to the latter’s aborted purchase of a £25m property brought by media executive Elisabeth Murdoch.
Orientfield lost a £2m deposit after it pulled out of buying the seven-bedroom investment in St John’s Wood, having discovered a major school development plan nearby.
The company alleged that Bird & Bird was negligent in failing to pass on the information that the school would be redeveloped as an academy and should pay for the lost deposit.
In the latest ruling heard in the Court of Appeal, Bird & Bird argued that the initial 2015 hearing should be overturned.
Bird & Bird’s lawyers Triton Global, and Wilberforce Chambers’ Joanna Smith QC and Tiffany Scott said: “The judge failed to make any specific findings as to what the appellant should have included in its summary of the Plansearch, report, had it been acting as a non-negligent solicitor.”
However, Court of Appeal judge Mrs J Gloster sided with the claimants, who were represented by Wedlake Bell and Wilberforce Chambers’ John Wardell QC and Geoffrey Zelin.
She ruled “He [the judge] clearly and sufficiently considered what an appropriate summary of the Plansearch report would have revealed.”
Gloster J added: “The judge heard all the evidence and reached the wholly unsurprising conclusion that a non-negligent summary would have resulted in the detail of the development emerging.”
Wedlake Bell partner David Golten said: “We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of the High Court and that after a 6 year fight Orientfield can now get all its money back, including the cost it has incurred in pursuing its former solicitors”.
Bird & Bird declined to comment.
The legal line-up
For the claimant, Orientfield Holdings
Wilberforce Chambers’ John Wardell QC and Geoffrey Zelin, instructed by Wedlake Bell partner David Golten
For the appellants, Bird & Bird
Wilberforce Chambers’ Joanna Smith QC and Tiffany Scott, instructed by Triton Global director Michael Robin
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