Mishcon faces £66k damages bill after banker’s prof neg claim

Mishcon de Reya will pay over £66,000 in damages and interest to a former client after partially losing a professional negligence case in the High Court.

Mrs Justice Simler upheld a portion of former trader Russell Chweidan’s damages claim in contract and tort for professional negligence because of Mishcon’s failure to cross-appeal in time an Employment Tribunal decision relating to his dismissal by JP Morgan. 

However she rejected other arguments put forward by the claimant, and substantially reduced the damages he had asked for.

Simler J ruled that there was an 18 per cent chance that Chweidan’s unfair dismissal case against JP Morgan would have succeeded and awarded him 18 per cent of the likely claim value of £357,574, resulting in damages of £64,363.

She also awarded 18 per cent of £10,000 likely interest accrued after the Tribunal judgment, resulting in a total sum of £66,163.

Simler J said: “Although I have found that the chances of success were limited, there was more than a negligible prospect of the claimant succeeding on appeal and having done so, proving his unlawful age discrimination claims. In those circumstances, the breach of duty was the effective cause of these lost opportunities.

“The claimant is accordingly entitled to recover damages for the loss of opportunity suffered as a consequence of the defendant’s breach.”

Mishcon turned to Robin Simon partner Michael Robin, who instructed 11 KBW’s Nigel Porter.

Lyons Davidson fielded partner Richard Loney for Chweidan, instructing Littleton Chambers’ Antony Sendall.

The fight between the former JP Morgan employee and his lawyers began when the firm was instructed to take on Chweidan’s unfair dismissal case in 2008. 

The trader was made redundant following a skiing accident which rendered him disabled. The Employment Tribunal found he had been unfairly dismissed and ruled that JP Morgan had acted unlawfully and discriminated against him on the basis of his disability by awarding him a smaller than expected bonus.

JP Morgan appealed that judgment and it was overturned in 2011 by the Court of Appeal, but Chweidan’s cross-appeal was not lodged in time. Mishcon accepted blame for that breach but Chweidan pursued the firm.

He argued that the firm had failed to advise or assist him in bringing his allegations against JP Morgan within the statutory grievance procedure and that he suffered damages as a result of not lodging a counter claim in time.

Simler J did not accept that Mishcon had failed to adhere to the statutory grievance procedure but awarded damages in relation to the counter claim breach.

In a statement, Mishcon said: “The only claim the judge found in favour of the claimant was the one that Mishcon de Reya had candidly accepted in 2008. All of Russell Chweidan’s other claims were rejected and, consequently, he has only received a fraction of the compensation that he sued for. The judge made no criticism of Mishcon de Reya, other than in relation to the acknowledged breach, and accepted that the firm had acted to the standard expected. It was a matter of great regret that Mr Chweidan brought his claim, given the early acknowledgement and now the judge’s findings.”

The legal line up

For the claimant Russell Chweidan

Littleton Chambers’ Antony Sendall instructed by Lyons Davison partner Richard Loney

For the defendant Mishcon de Reya Solicitors

11 KBW’s Nigel Porter instructed by Robin Simon partner Michael Robin