London & Regional hits Lawrence Graham with negligence suit

London & Regional (L&R) is suing Lawrence Graham for almost £30m over a deal that was allegedly bungled by Michael Fielding, the former partner who fled the country after allegedly taking £2m from L&R’s account.

The claim relates to a parallel deal between L&R and airport operator TBI. The deal saw L&R purchase a property portfolio from TBI and a joint venture agreement between the two companies to develop business parks on land near airports in Cardiff and Belfast. However, TBI refused to carry out the joint venture. L&R took the airport operator to the Court of Appeal last year, but the court ruled that the contract, drafted by Fielding, was not legally binding.

As a result, L&R is suing Lawrence Graham for negligence and breach of contract. Lawrence Graham declined to comment, although it is believed the firm will vigorously defend itself.

Fielding remains in the US, after running up millions of pounds of bank debt as well as allegedly stealing L&R’s money.

Last week, Fielding’s wife Sandra lost her appeal against a High Court decision, which found that she was liable for a debt of £3m incurred on the pair’s personal joint account.

In the Court of Appeal judgment, Lord Justice Jonathan Parker said that in the few years prior to Fielding’s hurried exit, he was under increasingly severe financial pressure. This was, in part, because between 1988 and 1992 Fielding was a defendant in Line Trust Corp Ltd & ors v Fielding & ors, a case that related to a deal for Land Investors. “This involved him in heavy legal costs (a figure of £1m has been mentioned by him in evidence) met, at least in part, from drawings on the joint account,” the judgment said. He was also exposed to action from the bank as a result of the dissolution of his former firm Grangewoods.

L&R did not return The Lawyer’s calls for comment.