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The Court of Appeal has ruled that four-partner Kensington practice Berensons is liable for £3m to a syndicate of four banks that loaned money to one of its clients.
In 1990, Berensons acted for Cavendish Funding Limited, a mortgage company that provided bridging finance to borrowers. When Thomas Peterson Hotels requested a loan from Cavendish, Berensons sent a funding request to Barclays Bank, one of the banks in the funding syndicate. The request stated that security for the loan was available. In fact, this was not the case.
Cavendish subsequently went into administrative receivership and the syndicate is now trying to get its money back.
The banks instructed Clifford Chance, which took the case to the Court of Appeal after the High Court ruled in favour of Berensons, represented by Pinsent Curtis assistant Miriam Bartlett.
Clifford Chance assistant David Chadwick said: "The whole structure of this transaction is not particularly common. But it's interesting, because a solicitor was found liable to a third party in circumstances where its client may not have been able to sue it. Cavendish may well have known that there was no first charge security for the loan."