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Howard Kennedy is being sued for almost £1m for professional negligence arising out of its handling of the sale of shares in Lopping Display Holdings.
Claimants John and Mary Penn, who are also suing for the trustees of the Penn Family Trust, claim the firm was in breach of duty and failed to carry out instructions. The Penns instructed Howard Kennedy to act for them over the sale of their shares in Lopping Display to CA Coutts Holdings. The couple signed a heads of agreements document, which entitled them to receive 600,000 Coutts shares with further sums to be paid or repaid if Lopping Display's assets went above or below £2m on a certain date. The alleged mistake took place when Coutts' solicitors, Nabarro Nathanson, sent a draft agreement which failed to reflect the heads of agreements. In this draft, the Penns got 600,000 shares only if Lopping Display's net asset value was more than £2m on the designated day.
"It is alleged that Howard Kennedy's lawyer failed to substantively try to amend two clauses dealing with the 600,000 shares"
The claims form alleges that Lopping Display's asset value was less than £2m when the company's balance sheet was prepared, so they were not entitled to Coutts' 600,000 shares. It is alleged that Howard Kennedy lawyer Roger Seaton failed to substantively try to amend two clauses dealing with the 600,000 shares. He also allegedly failed to inform John Penn about Nabarro's draft agreement during a meeting in September. In addition, it is claimed that Seaton failed to explain the terms of the final agreement. The Penns insist that if Howard Kennedy had done what it should have done, they would have insisted the heads of agreements were adhered to. The Penns are suing the firm for £975,000.