Beachcroft defeats negligence claim brought by DAC client

Beachcroft has defeated a £2m negligence claim brought against it by a former client, but failed to recover £214,000 of fees it said were outstanding from the client.

The former client was represented by Davies Arnold Cooper (DAC), which is now set to merge with Beachcroft (22 June 1011).

The claim arose after Beachcroft acted for entrepreneur Alexander Langsam in a negligence action against his former accountants, Hacker Young, over his status as a non-domiciliary and subsequent tax relief. The claim settled in 2006 with Hacker Young agreeing to pay Langsam £1m.

Langsam then brought the case against Beachcroft, saying that the firm gave negligent advice that prevented him recovering a total of around £3m from the accountants.

Beachcroft counter-claimed, saying Langsam owed the firm £214,000 in unpaid fees in respect of a conditional fee arrangement (CFA). Under the terms of the CFA Langsam was liable for Beachcroft’s hourly rates, all discounted – £200 for advice from partner Peter Southeran, £150 for assistant solicitors and £100 for trainees. The CFA also provided for a 100 per cent success fee if Langsam recovered more than £2m from the litigation.

However, in his judgment handed down on 9 June, Mr Justice Roth ruled the CFA was unenforceable and dismissed Beachcroft’s counter-claim along with Langsam’s claim.

Beachcroft instructed Katherine Rees of Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, with Fountain Court Chambers’ Stephen Moriarty QC and Derrick Dale QC as counsel.

David Bear of DAC, instructing Wilberforce Chambers’ John Wardell QC, appeared for Langsam.

Beachcroft declined to comment.