Goat farmers defeat Brachers in negligence claim

A goat-farming couple yesterday emerged victorious from their negligence action against South East firm Brachers.

Mr and Mrs Browning took their case to the Court of Appeal earlier this year. They were attempting to raise the value of a High Court order given in 2004, when Mr Justice Jack awarded them £46,357 plus interest after finding Brachers had given negligent advice.

The Brownings bought a goat-farming business in the early 1990s, but discovered that the herd was infected with Johne’s disease. Judge Jack had found that Brachers had failed to progress an action against the seller of the goats, resulting in losses for the Brownings.

Yesterday (20 June), the Court of Appeal decided that Judge Jack’s order was too low and raised it to a total of £224,970 plus 80 per cent of the Brownings’ costs.

Brachers managing partner John Sheath said the firm had recognised early on that it made a mistake, and made a compensation offer that was higher than the original order. However, yesterday’s order “marginally exceeded” that offer.

Sheath said: “From our point of view we have acted reasonably throughout. We think it was a pity the matter has been prolonged as it has been.”

David Blunt QC of 4 Pump Court acted for the claimants, instructed by Gregory Rowcliffe Milners. Barlow Lyde & Gilbert represented Brachers, instructing Ian Croxford QC of Wilberforce Chambers.