Credit Lyonnais Sa (A Body Corporate) v Russell Jones and Walker (A Firm): ChD 2 Jul 2002

The claimant sought damages for professional negligence against the defendant solicitors. A corporate lawyer had been assigned to deal with a property matter, and he had failed to appreciate the need to comply strictly with time conditions in a break clause.
Held: Although the professions were not the insurers of their clients, the defendants had been negligent in this case in allowing a solicitor to act in a matter in which he was not competent and capable. ‘A solicitor is not a general insurer against his client’s legal problems. His duties are defined by the terms of the agreed retainer . . . the solicitor has only to expend time and effort in what he has been engaged to do and for which the client has agreed to pay.’ However: ‘if, in the course of doing that for which he is retained, he becomes aware of a risk or a potential risk to the client, it is his duty to inform the client. In doing that he is neither going beyond the scope of his instructions nor is he doing ‘extra’ work for which he is not to be paid. He is simply reporting back to the client on issues of concern which he learns of as a result of, and in the course of, carrying out his express instructions . . . if a dentist is asked to treat a patient’s tooth and on looking at the latter’s mouth he notices that an adjacent tooth is in need of treatment it is his duty to warn the patient accordingly. So too, if, in the course of carrying out instructions within his area of competence, a lawyer notices or ought to notice a problem or risk for the client, of which it is reasonable to assume that the client may not be aware, the lawyer must warn him.’


Laddie J


Times 08-Oct-2002, [2002] EWHC 1310 (Ch)




England and Wales


CitedBoyce v Rendells CA 1983
The court accepted the proposition as to the extent of a solicitor’s duty of care that: ‘if, in the course of taking instructions, a professional man like a land agent or a solicitor learns of facts which reveal to him as a professional man the . .
CitedWhite and Another v Jones and Another HL 16-Feb-1995
Will Drafter liable in Negligence to Beneficiary
A solicitor drawing a will may be liable in negligence to a potential beneficiary, having unduly delayed in the drawing of the will. The Hedley Byrne principle was ‘founded upon an assumption of responsibility.’ Obligations may occasionally arise . .
CitedClark Boyce v Mouat PC 4-Oct-1993
(New Zealand) No duty of wisdom is owed to client in full command of his faculties by a lawyer. If the client requires only action from his lawyer, that is what is required. Informed consent can be sufficient to allow a solicitor to act for two . .

Cited by:

CitedJohn Mowlem Construction Plc v Neil F Jones and Co CA 1-Jul-2004
The defendant’s solicitors were alleged to have failed to advise their clients when an issue was raised, to notify their professional negligence insurers, with the result that the insurers had been able to repudiate liability.
Held: In the . .
CitedTaefi v Jeffrey Green Russell (A Firm) CA 25-Jul-2005
The appellant challenged dismissal of his claim for professional negligence against his former solicitors in their conduct of litigation against a tenant.
Held: The appeal failed. The factual findings had a proper basis in the evidence. Even . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Professional Negligence

Updated: 04 October 2022; Ref: scu.177368