Litigation boutique Stewarts Law has won a major victory against Linklaters in the Court of Appeal in a ruling that could see the magic circle firm liable for a $55m (£37m) negligence claim.
Stewarts Law partner Andrew Shaw was instructed to act for Baltic telecoms company Levicom in its multi-million pound claim against the firm.
In April last year Mr Justice Andrew Smith ordered Linklaters to pay nominal damages of just £5 to Levicom, after it brought a claim against the company relating to a dispute it had with telecoms company Tele2 AB. Levicom claimed that Linklaters advised it that it would have a 70 per cent chance of success if the dispute went to arbitration.
Levicom alleged that had it not followed Linklaters’ advice it would have settled on more favourable terms. As it was, the company turned down three settlement offers from Tele2 AB.
The original judgment placed burden of proof on the claimants, but today the Court of Appeal overturned that ruling.
Lord Justice Jacob stated: “When a solicitor gives advice that his client has a strong case to start litigation rather than settle and the client then does just that, the normal inference is that the advice is causative.
“Of course the inference is rebuttable – it may be possible to show that the client would have gone ahead willy-nilly. But that was certainly not shown on the evidence here.
“The judge should have approached the case on the basis that the evidential burden had shifted to Linklaters to prove that its advice was not causative. Such an approach would surely have led him to a different result.”
At first instance Manches was instructed to act for Levicom, but the firm lost the running of the case when partner Andrew Shaw moved with head of litigation Clive Zietman to Stewarts Law.
In a statement Shaw said: “Our clients are delighted with the outcome. We are unable to comment further at this stage as the assessment of damages remains outstanding.”
Shaw instructed 4 New Square’s Justin Fenwick QC to lead Ben Patten QC for Levicom.
Clyde & Co partner Conrad Walker instructed Fountain Court’s Stephen Moriarty QC and Derrick Dale QC for Linklaters.