A leading barrister is being sued for negligence for the second time by the same claimant, a former solicitor, after the first attempt was thrown out of court
Both the defendant, Ian Leeming QC, a chancery specialist at St James' Chambers in Manchester, and the claimant, Robert Hurst, have applied for summary judgment over the second claim, set for 11 March in the High Court.
Leeming's lawyer, John Bennett, a litigation partner at Weightman Vizards, said it is a fresh claim and not an appeal, although he said there are overlaps with Hurst's previous allegations, which were dismissed by Mr Justice Lightman in May 2002. Judge Lightman ordered Hurst to pay £55,000 costs for which he is still liable. Hurst lodged this fresh claim last October.
Hurst first instructed Leeming during legal proceedings against his former partners. Hurst failed in these proceedings at first instance, at the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, and as a result was declared bankrupt.
Hurst then sued the lawyers who acted for him during these trials, but he lost at first instance and the Court of Appeal refused him permission to appeal. He then commenced separate proceedings, which were struck out as abuse of process - as a result of the Lords' decision in Hall v Simons, which held that barristers could be sued for negligence for their conduct in proceedings - before suing Leeming.
This action attracted considerable legal interest after Judge Lightman's decision to refuse Hurst's application for no costs to be imposed against him because Leeming had refused to settle by way of mediation.
Subsequent case law has erred on the side of sanctioning parties that refuse to mediate.