Hammonds wins Football League claim – but pays £4 damages

Hammonds has won the bulk of the £150m negligence claim brought against it by the Football League – but must pay £4 in damages for two minor breaches of duty.

Mr Justice Rimer handed down judgment in the High Court this morning (23 June), and found that the Football League’s main claim had failed.

Rimer J said Edge Ellison, which merged with Hammonds in August 2000, had not breached its duty in the advice it gave to the League over broadcasting contracts with ONdigital (now ITV Digital).

However Rimer J found the firm in breach of two minor duties, and imposed nominal damages of £2 per breach.

In his judgment, Rimer J said: “Is the solicitor supposed to review the whole range of commercial considerations that underlie a particular deal, work out which ones he is concerned the client may not have given sufficient thought to and remind him about them?

“In my opinion the answer is no.”

Hammonds managing partner Peter Crossley said in a statement: “We as a firm are pleased that the Football League’s claim has failed and that we have won the case.

“This judgment confirms that the Football League’s losses on the collapse of ITV Digital were the result of its own decisions and conduct, not those of Edge Ellison.”

Hammonds was represented by Barlow Lyde & Gilbert partner Sarah Clover and Brick Court Chambers’ Jonathan Sumption QC.

Clover commented: “This decision confirms that solicitors cannot be expected to underwrite the success of their clients’ commercial transactions nor to advise them of things they know already.”

Hammonds’ part 20 claim against its former consultant Stephen Townley, who helped broker the deal for the Football League, also failed.

Michele Freyne of Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw acted for the Football League, instructing Four New Square’s Justin Fenwick QC.

Townley was represented by Clyde & Co’s Michael Payton and Four New Square’s Sue Carr QC.