The High Court has struck out an alleged multi-million pound professional negligence claim against a law firm, finding that the claim was based on "incomprehensible pleadings", allegations of fraud "without any particulars" and an "unintelligible assertion of 'reckless carelessness'".
The professional negligence claim was one of a number of claims arising from property dealings in Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Chelsea and Westminster. The High Court noted that "the claimant has elected to access legal advice from time to time", but it appears that she had drafted the relevant pleadings herself. Despite being given "a number of previous opportunities to plead a particulars of claim that is ... clear, concise and comprehensible", the claimant had repeatedly failed to do so. The High Court therefore concluded: "Enough is enough and the prejudice to the defendants in allowing this claim to proceed overwhelmingly militates in favour of granting the defendants' [strike out] application".
The claimant also asserted that if her separate complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority corroborated what she was alleging in her professional negligence claim, then she would be also entitled to bring a claim for fraud against her former solicitors. However, the High Court had no time for this argument, explaining: "This is not how fraud is to be pleaded. The claimant must have a proper basis for making an allegation of dishonesty against the defendants and she cannot simply see if something emerges".
This case highlights the dangers of "DIY litigation", and of only seeking limited specialist advice when dealing with complex legal issues. It is unclear whether or not the claimant did in fact have a viable multi-million pound claim as she alleged, but what is clear, is that she has now lost her ability to pursue that claim as a result of failing to properly prepare and present her claim.
If you have any queries about a potential professional negligence claim, or litigation generally, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The claim, which ran to 58 pages and two appendices, was “impossible to understand and plead to”.