On 28 April 2017, the Court of Appeal handed down judgement in the professional negligence claim brought by Frank Perry against his former solicitors, Raleys.
Raleys had acted for Mr Perry, a former miner, in a claim for compensation he made as a result of contracting the industrial disease ‘vibration white finger’ as a consequence of using heavy vibratory tools whilst working in the mining industry.
A scheme had been set up to compensate miners like Mr Perry. Raleys secured the correct level of compensation for Mr Perry under the scheme for his pain and suffering caused by the injury.
However, they did not secure an award for services for him. A claim for services could be made if a claimant such as Mr Perry could show he received assistance from others (whether paid or unpaid) with tasks around the house such as gardening, DIY, decorating, window cleaning, car washing and car maintenance, and he received that assistance due partly or entirely to the effect his vibration white finger symptoms had on him.
Professional Negligence claim
Raleys accepted in this case that they did not do all they should have done to advise the claimant about a services claim.
But to succeed in a claim for professional negligence against Raleys, that alone was not enough. Mr Perry also had to show that he would have pursued a claim for services if he had been properly advised.
Raleys stated in the professional negligence claim that it was necessary for Mr Perry to show that he would have made a ‘genuine’ claim for services, and suggested he could not show that. Raleys stated that the evidence in their possession including entries from the claimant’s GP notes, DWP notes and facebook entries suggested Mr Perry should not be believed when he said he needed assistance with tasks around the house. They stated that it is more likely than not that the claimant did not need assistance with tasks around the house. The Court agreed.
The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal stated that Raleys and the Judge were wrong. The Court of Appeal said that it was obvious that Mr Perry would have pursued a claim for services if he had been properly advised. The Court of Appeal said that all Raleys were trying to do by collecting all the evidence they did was to show that Mr Perry’s claim would not have been successful. That is a different question to whether Mr Perry would have pursued a claim.
The question as to whether Mr Perry’s services claim would be successful is still of course relevant. However, for a claimant’s professional negligence claim to be thrown out because they do not think his services claim would have been successful would require a court to find that it is overwhelmingly clear that the claimant has only negligible prospects of success. That is a very high hurdle for any Defendant to get over.
This amounts to a major breakthrough for the claimants in vibration white finger professional negligence claims against their former solicitors. All courts now have to adopt the above approach.
Whilst this decision does not mean that all such claims will succeed as each case presents with its own facts and issues, this judgement certainly makes things easier for claimants.
If you are an ex-miner and you made a claim for Vibration White Finger you need to act IMMEDIATELY as claims are subject to time limits. Call a member of our team FREE on 03303 001033 to discuss your claim.