Wilsons sued to tune of £100m over land lease negligence

Private client firm Wilsons has become embroiled in a £100m lawsuit brought by the Earl of Malmesbury in a dispute over the value of a lease.

Salisbury-based Wilsons, a 28-partner firm specialising in private client and property work, is accused of negligently drafting a lease for 12 acres of land rented by Bournemouth International Airport.

James Carleton Harris, the seventh Earl of Malmesbury, claims that Wilsons and property agents Strutt & Parker are responsible for loss of rent from the land, which adjoins the airport site. The land was rented to National Express in 2000 at £9,000 for use as a car park. Harris and his trustees claim that, because Strutt & Parker and Wilsons failed to negotiate a rent based on car park turnover, the estate was deprived of a realistic income.

Wilsons was originally attached to the claim as a Part- 20 defendant by Strutt & Parker, but has recently been named as a co-defendant by Harris.

Simmons & Simmons litigation partner James Pollock is acting for Wilsons, instructing 4 Pump Court’s Michael Douglas QC.

A spokesperson for Wilsons said: “We totally reject the claim and are confident we’ll be vindicated.” Pollock declined to comment.

Chancery Lane firm Stockler Brunton is representing Harris, instructing Anthony Speaight QC, also of 4 Pump Court. Strutt & Parker has instructed Hugh Williams of insurance and professional negligence firm Williams Holden Cooklin Gibbons, with Timothy Lamb QC of 3 Paper Buildings as counsel.