Litigation Recent Decisions 07/10/97

Professional negligence against solicitors in 87 cases

Bristol & West Building Society v Fancy & Jackson; Same (plaintiff) v Defendants in 1995 B2165, 1995 B2401, 1995 B2468, 1995 B2858, 1995 B3197, 1996 B0784 (1997)

Court: Ch.D Bristol District Registry (Chadwick J) (4/7/97)

Summary: 87 claims for professional negligence brought by a building society against firms of solicitors in Bristol for losses suffered in lending transactions where the mortgages proved defective or fraudulent.

In a judgment on 16 April 1996 in Bristol & West Building Society v May May & Merrimans (1996) his lordship described the circumstances in which the plaintiff building society had commenced numerous actions in the Bristol District Registry against solicitor defendants who had acted for the plaintiff in taking security by way of mortgage over domestic property. On 30 April 1996 his lordship delivered a further judgment in two actions brought by the plaintiff as successor to the Cheshunt Building Society under a transfer of engagements against solicitor defendants who had acted for the Cheshunt Society in similar circumstances. Following those judgments, his lordship gave directions which led to some 87 of the actions brought by the plaintiff against solicitors being listed for trial. On 16 February 1997, the trial of 27 of those cases was started. Of the remaining 60 cases, a few had been transferred out of the list for reasons of convenience but, in most, the parties had come to terms. During the course of the trial agreed orders have been made in 19 of the 27 cases leaving eight cases as the subject of the present judgment. In seven of those cases the question was whether the defendants were in breach of duty to the plaintiff, but in the eighth case, Bristol & West Building Society v Moroneys, breach of duty was admitted.