Compensation case sparks City Airport solicitors' row

PLAINTIFFs claiming compensation from London's City Airport over its alleged effect on their house values suffered a major setback when a judge ruled that official forms for claiming compensation were incorrectly completed and therefore invalid.

Judge Michael Rich QC ruled the forms failed, under the Lands Compensation Act, to specify the amount of compensation claimed.

Instead, the 230 plaintiffs had entered “an amount in excess of u50 to be agreed”.

The judgment flies in the face of advice from the Department of Transport, according to surveyors William Ricketts Partnership, which is advising claimants.

Senior partner William Ricketts says: “I was surprised the judge was not interested in what the Department of Transport had to say.”

Cardiff solicitors Morgan Bruce, acting for the surveyors, did not advise on completing the forms, says the firm's chair John Bowen.

A dispute is understood to have flared up temporarily between City Airport law firm

SJ Berwin & Co and Morgan Bruce, each accusing the other of breaching Law Society code of conduct rules.

The row developed in letters exchanged between the firms over the London City Airport case.

Bowen says he complained in writing to SJ Berwin about its lawyers' conduct. He says that his letter followed a letter to him from SJ Berwin, which had made allegations against the conduct of Morgan Bruce's lawyers.

SJ Berwin partners involved in the case are unavailable for comment. However, Bowen says: “I have talked to a senior partner there. We have concluded there is no dispute between us and we will not report each other.”