Scottish Life and Amec sue Middleton Potts over property advice

International trade specialists Middleton Potts and one of its partners are being sued over advice it provided to subsidiaries of Scottish Life and engineering company Amec during their purchase of land in Greater Manchester.
They claim that Middleton Potts and lawyer Richard Schmidt, now a property partner at the firm, failed on five occasions to comply with their duty of skill and care to the claimants, Amec and Scottish Life subsidiary Davenport Green.
The claimants bought the land after many years of effort in 2000, but did not acquire a key area, known as the ‘blue area’, that they had sought from the beginning. They allege that this was due in part to the manner in which Schmidt had originally handled the transaction. Schmidt was first instructed by Scottish Life’s surveyors in 1986 while he was a lawyer at Speechly Bircham.
The claimants allege that in 1986 Schmidt failed to check the accuracy of his own assumptions about who owned the blue area. Then, on two other occasions in 1998 and 2000, when he had moved to Middleton Potts, Schmidt failed to carry out proper checks to determine how much of the land being sought by the claimants was owned by the main vendor, one Mrs Smith.
Two further alleged failures relate to Schmidt’s checking of correspondence and instructions, and a general failure to ascertain “with precision or at all” the amount of property the claimants were seeking to buy.
When the claimants purchased the land in 2000, it is alleged that they were not aware that the blue area was by then owned by Mrs Smith and could therefore have been included in their purchase package.
A Middleton Potts spokesman said: “The claim is being defended. The claim is based on a misconception. The claimants’ predecessor, Scottish Life, was made fully aware of the extent of the land which was being acquired, a fact which the claimant appears to have forgotten. Middleton Potts was instructed on the express basis that the claimants were acquiring the same land and complied fully with those instructions.”