The UK Supreme Court has ruled that a professional negligence claim should not lose its worth because the case was retrospectively downgraded in value. According to a Law Gazette report, ruling in Edwards v Hugh James Ford Simey Solicitors, the court unanimously dismissed an appeal from the law firm (which has since demerged into two separate practices) and remitted the matter for assessment.
Judges concluded that the claimant, a former miner who missed out on making a services claim when he applied for tariff-based compensation, was entitled to claim for the lost opportunity and what it would have been worth at the time. This was despite a subsequent medical report suggesting his symptoms would have been insufficient to succeed on a services claim. Lord Lloyd-Jones, giving the lead judgment, said the claimant would have pursued an honest services claim had he received non-negligent advice. The medical report was “not relevant” to the issue of loss.
The claim was advanced by the daughter of the late Thomas Watkins, who had suffered from vibration white finger and accessed a government scheme for compensating miners employed by British Coal. Susan Hargreaves, of BPS Law LLP, who represented the claimant, said: “This judgment confirms what claimant lawyers have always thought – that claims handled under a scheme must be treated differently because schemes are intended to provide an efficient and economic system for dealing with a huge number of claims in a way that was broadly fair. To then seek to apply conventional civil procedure rules is counterproductive and goes against the purpose for establishing a scheme in the first place.”Law Gazette report UK Supreme Court judgement