Former client drops negligence claim against Shackleton

A claim of negligence against celebrity divorce solicitor Fiona Shackleton’s firm Payne Hicks Beach has been dropped.

Fiona Shackleton
Fiona Shackleton

Banker Christopher Smith had instructed Rosenblatt Solicitors lawyer Simon Walton and was suing for more than £250,000, alleging a mistake by Shackleton had lost him that amount in overpaid child support and unnecessary legal advice.

However, Payne Hicks Beach, which instructed Fishburns partner Sheona Wood and 4 New Square barristers Patrick Lawrence QC and Oliver Wise to defend the action, said the case had now been “discontinued”. Payne Hicks Beach partner Peter Black confirmed the action had been dropped.

He said: “I can confirm that a court order has been issued by consent that the proceedings against my firm should be discontinued and the claimant met his own costs.”

According to the original claim, Smith paid more than £95,000 for legal advice regarding his obligation to pay child support to his former partner (26 March 2012).

Smith said that Shackleton is considered to be a “leading expert in her field” and he was “entitled to expect the highest standards of skill and care”.

Payne Hicks Beach was instructed prior to the child’s birth to negotiate child support payments after he split up with his partner, art collector Rachel Verghis.

A deal was negotiated to pay Verghis £7,000 a month in child maintenance, plus rent.

However Smith took his business to Levison Meltzer Pigott, where he claimed to have been told that a Child Support Agency assessment would have made him pay just £658 a month, the equivalent of £8,000 a year.

Shackleton, best known for acting for high-profile divorce clients such as Sir Paul McCartney, advised Smith between May 2010 and June 2010, over his rights and responsibilities towards the unborn child.

Smith had claimed that Shackleton was “negligent” that he had lost out on £264,351.80, including the £95,700 he paid Payne Hicks Beach.

Rosenblatt’s Walton was unavailable for comment.