Lewis Silkin to appeal £2m negligence ruling over cricket chief contract

Lewis Silkin has been granted permission to appeal a £2m professional negligence judgment regarding its work for former Indian Premier League CEO Tim Wright.

Mr Justice Hamblen ruled in July the firm acted in breach of duty in its advice to cricket chief Wright on his £10m severance guarantee.

The firm is maintaining its instruction of DWF disputes partner John Bennett for the appeal. Bennett has switched counsel, instructing 4 New Square’s Justin Fenwick QC instead of Hailsham Chambers’ Michael Pooles QC. 4 New Square’s George Spalton will remain on the case.

Wright’s solicitors Rosenblatt will defend the appeal. Disputes partner Simon Walton has instructed 4 New Square’s Nicholas Davidson QC and Crown Office Chambers’ Muhammed Haque QC.

The appeal will be heard in early December 2016.

The case centres on the lack of a jurisdictional clause in an employment contract drawn up by Lewis Silkin head of employment Michael Burd in 2008.

Following his dismissal from his post of chief executive of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd in 2010, Wright fought to have the severance payment enforced in the Indian judicial system for two years.

Wright claimed that had a jurisdiction clause been present in the contract, he would have had a judgment earlier and had a substantive chance of forcing his employers to pay the award.

Lewis Silkin said the absence of the clause in Wright’s contract was deliberate and Burd had explained to his client “that he had a concern that even if they included a non-exclusive jurisdiction that might be enough to prevent suit in another jurisdiction” and “having touched on the ‘pros and cons’ of whether to specific a jurisdiction for the contract, he therefore cautioned against it and suggested that in the circumstances it was preferable to leave the question of jurisdiction open”.

Wright’s lawyers countered that “there was no such discussion then or at any time”.

Hamblen J ruled: “I find that Mr Burd did not advise in relation to whether or not a jurisdiction clause should be included” and “that [Lewis Silkin] was in breach of duty in failing to advise Mr Wright properly or at all in relation to jurisdiction matters”.

He awarded a damages payment of £2m plus costs to Wright.

A spokesperson for Lewis Silkin said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has granted us permission to appeal, and we believe we have strong legal grounds for our appeal.”

The legal line-up:

For the appellant, Lewis Silkin

4 New Square’s Justin Fenwick and George Spalton, instructed by DWF partner John Bennett

For the respondent, Tim Wright

4 New Square’s Nicholas Davidson QC and Crown Office Chambers’ Muhammed Haque QC, instructed by Rosenblatt partner Simon Walton