"Commoditised" advice was negligent

Posted: 14th May 2015

RCJAn ex-miner has won compensation from solicitors who let him down after he developed the debilitating condition vibration white finger (VWF). The Court of Appeal found that the law firm had failed adequately to advise him before settling his damages claim against his former employers for too little money.

Andrew Procter’s condition was the legacy of his use of vibrating tools at the coal face over many years. He sued two previous employers and the law firm negotiated a £11,141 settlement of his claim. However, that figure took no account of the assistance that he would need in carrying out gardening and other domestic tasks.

After the man launched professional negligence proceedings, a judge found that his case had been settled at an undervalue and ordered Raleys solicitors to pay him £6,655 in damages. In challenging that ruling, the firm argued that it had handled the claim competently and that the judge had imposed an unrealistic standard. They argued that financial constraints on solicitors required them to ‘commoditise’ their advice to potential claimants.

Dismissing the appeal, the Court noted that the firm was aware that the man was unsophisticated and had little understanding of the law. The written advice given to him was unclear, and at least two opportunities had been missed to explain to him in straightforward terms the circumstances in which a claim could be made.

If you feel that you have been poorly advised in respect of a claim concluded during the last three years, contact us for advice. You may have a claim against your former solicitors.