Appeal Court side-stepped case, claims Woods' lawyer

THE SIXTEEN-year saga of Peggy Wood's fight for justice has finally ended amid claims that the Court of Appeal “side-stepped the issue”.

Wood hoped to establish that the Law Society owed a duty of care when investigating complaints against solicitors.

But the Court of Appeal last week threw out the case on the grounds that the society's negligence in mishandling her complaint did not lead to her losses. Duty of care did not, therefore, need to be discussed.

Wood's solicitor, Christopher Malone, says: “They side-stepped the issue. No precedent was set because the whole matter was simply avoided.”

Malone, senior partner with Woolwich-based Powell & Co, says an appeal to the House of Lords is unlikely because the case did not fail on an important point of law. But counsel's opinion is being sought.

“The case was lost essentially on a point of fact – whether the client suffered loss – and the duty of care was not even considered,” Malone says.

The appeal was brought on a pro bono basis by Malone and leading counsel James Munby QC, after a ruling by the High Court against Wood in 1993.

Mr Justice Otton accepted that the society had been negligent but threw out the case because no duty of care was owed under common law or statute.

Mr Justice Otton accepted that the society had been negligent but threw out the case because no duty of care was owed under common law or statute.

Otton described Wood's case as “heart-rending” but warned a higher court would be forced to uphold his decision.

Mr Justice Otton accepted that the society had been negligent but threw out the case because no duty of care was owed under common law or statute.

Otton described Wood's case as “heart-rending” but warned a higher court would be forced to uphold his decision.

The controversy arose from a complaint brought by Wood against the Chichester-based firm Hubbard & Co which arranged loans for her while she applied for planning permission to develop her land.