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There has been a remarkable level of interest in this particular case. It has largely concentrated on the fact that the plaintiffs have won damages of £77,529 from Lloyds Bank.
There has been scant mention of the fact that the plaintiffs were claiming in excess of £500,000 or that there is an outstanding counter-claim of around £160,000 in the light of which the plaintiffs must consider their “victory” a hollow one.
In no way does the decision change the law. The judge simply applied the existing law of negligence to the facts of the case as he found them. It has been clear, at least since the decision in Woods v Martins Bank (1959) that a banker, like any other professional who gives advice, can be held liable in damage if his advice is negligent and leads to loss.
Advice must have been specifically sought by the customer and it must be clear to the bank that its advice is being sought in order for the duty of care to arise.
The decision by a bank to lend money to a customer does not constitute advice on the viability of the project for which the customer has sought the funds.
Neither Lloyds Bank nor Dibbs’ approach to the case was influenced by the fact that the plaintiffs represented themselves at trial,
although this no doubt contributed to the media interest in the case.
In fact, the plaintiffs were represented by solicitors and counsel until shortly before the trial commenced, when their legal aid was withdrawn.
We extended every courtesy, and where appropriate, assistance at all times and the Lloyds Bank counsel was commended by the judge for his conduct in this regard throughout the trial.
Dibb Lupton Broomhead acted as representatives for Lloyds Bank.