Druces hit for £2m in negligence claim

The High Court has ordered 15-partner City firm Druces & Attlee to pay almost £2m in damages to a former client for breach of contract, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty.

The judgment relates to advice given to claimant Jonathan Ball, an architect, on the establishment of Cornwall’s Eden Project in 1994 and 1995. The firm is considering an appeal.

A Druces spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to learn of the judgment in what was clearly a complex case. We’re saddened it was necessary to take it to the High Court and we remain proud of our role in the creation of the world-renowned Eden Project.”

Druces partner Toby Stroh advised Ball and his partner Tim Smit on establishing a charitable trust to carry forward the project, despite the fact that both parties had made it clear they wished to profit from it. The firm also failed to advise Ball to enter into a bidding agreement with the trustees.

Mr Justice Nelson agreed that Ball’s failure to profit from the project’s success came as a direct result of the firm’s advice. He also found that Druces had acted in breach of fiduciary duty after advising the trustees of the Eden Trust and Eden Project on Ball’s attempts to assert his rights, until Ball successfully injuncted the firm.

The £1,809,285 in damages will be covered by the firm’s insurance policy.
McDermott Will & Emery, instructing Michael Kent QC, advised the claimant, while Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, instructing Bernard Livesey QC, acted for the defendant.