Solicitor sues LAB over alleged abuse of power

A London solicitor is seeking damages from the Legal Aid Board for alleged deliberate abuse of power.

Hilda Amoo-Gottfried, of Amoo-Gottfried & Co, is suing for damages following her deselection from a duty solicitor scheme in 1993.

The deselection followed a procedural irregularity by the local duty solicitor scheme committee. A successful appeal to the national committee resulted in an order to the London number one regional committee to reinstate Amoo-Gottfried .

But it was not until September 1995, by which time leave for judicial review had been granted, that Amoo-Gottfried was eventually reinstated.

In an application for leave to amend the case to a writ action last month, Mr Justice Jowitt said there had been a breach of statutory duty but this could not give claim to damages because the beneficiaries of the duty solicitor scheme were those who needed legal advice not those providing it.

He added that there was no contract or quasi-contract between the LAB and the solicitor which could found a claim for damages.

But Justice Jowitt gave leave for the case to be converted on the grounds of misfeasance in public office – deliberate abuse of power – by members of the regional committee. He ordered the LAB to pay Amoo-Gottfried's costs for the judicial review.

Amoo-Gottfried, represented by Cherie Booth QC and Khawar Qureshi, is claiming damages for loss of earnings, ill health and mental distress.

The LAB, represented by Beverley Lang, will be defending the claim, which is expected to come to trial early next year.