Peter Carter-Ruck and Ptnrs faces legal action over Private Eye case

John Stuart Condliffe, the accountant who dropped a 10-year libel battle with Private Eye last year, is attempting to sue Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners, which acted for him in the case, for negligence

Condliffe wants to claim that the firm acted negligently towards him in the way it handled the mammoth litigation. He will also shortly issue a complaint to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) for misconduct against the firm.

But Condliffe, who was declared bankrupt at Truro County Court last month following the case, cannot sue the firm without the agreement of his trustee in bankruptcy.

Ironically, Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners claims to be Condliffe's largest creditor, as he still owes the firm close on £500,000 in legal fees; Condliffe's trustee in bankruptcy was also proposed by the firm.

Condliffe's trustee is shortly to discuss whether his claim is viable, but at the moment Condliffe does not know whether the firm will have a vote at the meeting.

“I do intend to pursue the negligence claim against Carter-Ruck, and I do intend to make a complaint to the OSS with regards to the firm's alleged misconduct,” Condliffe told The Lawyer.

Condliffe ran up a £1.75m legal bill with the firm fighting Private Eye, but £1.25m of the work was done under a conditional fee arrangement (CFA).

The firm instituted the CFA in August 2001, after Condliffe had already clocked up £500,000 in fees.

Partner Alasdair Pepper said he was aware that Condliffe had made claims about Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners' conduct, as these were brought up at his bankruptcy proceedings; but he would not discuss any potential claim for negligence.

Pepper said, though, he was not aware that Condliffe intended to go to the OSS.