Solicitors to the Queen Farrers & Co are being sued for negligence in a paternity case because they allegedly applied for a DNA test under the wrong Act.
The mother concerned, who was seeking maintenance from the alleged father, a wealthy foreign businessman, has issued a High Court writ claiming Farrers acted negligently on her behalf.
She is also seeking an injunction restraining them from presenting a bankruptcy petition against her.
The writ states that she was introduced to Farrers' senior partner Richard Griffiths, who handed her to his matrimonial law partner Sian Blore.
But, the writ alleges, the firm made an application for DNA testing under the Children Act 1989 instead of the correct act – section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.
As a result the businessman was able to delay the application, which was eventually struck out by a judge eight months after it was filed, and used the time to put his assets beyond the mother's reach.
She instructed new solicitors and eventually obtained her maintenance but was unable to get recompense from the businessman for the fees Farrer & Co are charging. She has paid £9,650 of Farrers' £14,000 bill and the firm is threatening her with bankruptcy proceedings to recover the rest, the writ claims.
The writ was issued by West End firm Jeffrey Green Russell, which would not comment. Farrer & Co's head of civil litigation Adrian Parkhouse said: “The matter is being handled by our insurers' solicitors.”