Barrister appeals on charge of negligence

A professional negligence barrister is seeking leave to appeal to the House of Lords to overturn a finding of negligence against her.

The Lords’ appellate committee will decide whether Jacqueline Perry of Lamb Chambers misadvised client David Moy in his compensation claim against a local health authority. The court of appeal ruled against her in June 2002.

It is the first case where a barrister has been found negligent for advice given in relation to a settlement offer made at the door of court. Perry denies liability on these grounds and disputes a costs order against her. She has instructed legendary silk Sir Sydney Kentridge QC to handle her appeal.

Perry advised Moy that he could be awarded £210,000 compensation if certain medical evidence was admitted. However, following decisions by a district judge and a circuit judge on appeal of rejecting his application for disclosure, it emerged that Perry had considered that this application had only a 50 per cent chance of success. Perry failed to disclose this to her client.

Perry subsequently advised Moy to reject a £150,000 offer of settlement made by the health authority. She later advised him to accept but the offer was withdrawn. As a result Moy had to make do with an award of £120,000, out of which he would have to pay both sides’ costs.

Moy subsequently sued Perry’s law firm Pettman Smith, advised by 4 New Square’s Bernard Livesey QC, which was found liable, and Perry herself, who was acquitted. The appeal court then upheld Pettman Smith’s claim that Perry was liable for half the £210,000 damages facing Pettman Smith.