We have recovered compensation for our client in a claim against a solicitor who acted for him in a private prosecution.
In an effort to streamline her estate our client’s mother sold her shares in the family business. She had taken advice from the family solicitor who, rather than having the shares revalued, used an old valuation. The sale therefore took place at a massive undervalue.
Our client felt that his mother had been defrauded and asked the police to investigate. However, the CPS refused to prosecute as his mother was clearly of sound mind and gave good reasons for the sale price.
Our client was not happy with this outcome and so approached a firm of solicitors with a view to bringing a private (criminal) prosecution against the family solicitor. The firm of solicitors investigated the matter, obtaining retrospective valuations of the shares which confirmed the sale had indeed been at an undervalue. They gave him a very positive advice about prospects of success in bringing a claim, suggesting that his mother, being elderly, did not understand the connotations of what had occurred. As well as being bullish on the prospects of success of a private prosecution, the solicitors also gave vigorous and persuasive advice that he would be able to recover the costs of the prosecution. In support of this, the firm instructed a highly commended barrister to give his opinion on the claim which he duly did.
However, it subsequently transpired that these solicitors had not supplied the barrister with all the relevant documents and gave a disingenuous impression about the mother’s state of mind. The barrister’s advice was thus flawed.
Based on the legal advice he had received, our client proceeded with his private prosecution. In answer to the court’s queries about why the police had not taken on the case, the solicitors gave a disingenuous response, hinting that the police had rejected the claim due to lack of resources, rather than the true reason that they had investigated and found no claim to answer.
As soon as the papers were sent to the family solicitor he contacted the CPS, stating that the private prosecution was vexatious litigation and that there had been non-disclosure – including details of the police investigation. He invited the CPS to take over the claim which they duly did; and instantly discontinued it.
Not only did the prosecution fail, but despite the solicitor’s assurances about costs, our client was ordered by the court to pay a significant sum in wasted costs to the family solicitor.
He therefore consulted our professional negligence team about making a compensation claim against his solicitors. We felt he had been badly let down and agreed to work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
The claim was legally very complex. It covered not just the civil jurisdiction, but also the criminal jurisdiction, with the complicating factor of identifying the relevant limitation periods for each head of claim. Our client claimed recovery of the legal costs he had expended, as well as the costs he had to pay to the family solicitor.
The matter finally and sensibly concluded after a lengthy mediation between the parties, with a compensation package being agreed which included a significant contribution towards the legal costs of the professional negligence claim.
If you want to make a claim against a solicitor then contact our free helpline for a case assessment and details of no win, no fee funding. Give us a call on 0333 888 0404 or send brief details by email to [email protected]