Perry v Raleys Solicitors: SC 13 Feb 2019

Veracity of a witness is for the court hearing him

The claimant, a retired miner, had sued his former solicitors, alleging professional negligence in the settlement of his claim for Vibration White Finger damages under the government approved scheme for compensation for such injuries. At trial, the judge found the claimant’s evidence unreliable, and that in any event his losses were reduced, being not entitled to a services award. Raleys now appealed the reversal of the damages award.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The judge at first instance not only was entitled to assess the veracity of the claimant as a witness, but had a duty to do so, and having reached a conclusion, to apply it. The credibility of a witness was properly a matter for the judge hearing that evidence, and not for an appellate court. The claimant had failed to establish that, properly advised, he would have been able to present a case for the services award.
‘It is a very strong thing for an appellate court to say, from a review of the paper records of a trial , that the trial judge was irrational in concluding that witnesses were not telling the truth, all the more so when the trial judge gives detailed reasons for that conclusion in a lengthy reserved judgment, and those reasons do not disclose any failure by him to consider relevant materials, or any disabling failure properly to understand them. The credibility (including honesty) of oral testimony is, of all things, a matter for the trial judge.’

Lady Hale, President, Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs
[2019] UKSC 5, UKSC 2017/0092, [2019] PNLR 17, [2019] 2 WLR 636, [2020] AC 352, [2019] 2 All ER 937
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, SC Summay Video, SC 2018 11 27 am Video, SC 2018 11 27 pm
England and Wales
CitedAllied Maples Group Ltd v Simmons and Simmons CA 12-May-1995
Lost chance claim – not mere speculative claim
Solicitors failed to advise the plaintiffs sufficiently in a property transaction. A warranty against liability for a former tenant’s obligations under leases had not been obtained. The trial judge held that, on a balance of probabilities, there was . .
CitedHanif v Middleweeks (a firm) CA 19-Jul-2000
The client was the co-owner of a nightclub which had been destroyed by fire. The insurers had issued proceedings for a declaration of non-liability, on the ground (among others) that the fire had been started deliberately by Mr Hanif’s co-owner. Mr . .
CitedGregg v Scott HL 27-Jan-2005
The patient saw his doctor and complained about a lump under his arm. The doctor failed to diagnose cancer. It was nine months before treatment was begun. The claimant sought damages for the reduction in his prospects of disease-free survival for . .
CitedKitchen v Royal Air Force Association CA 1958
The plaintiff’s husband, a member of the RAF, was electrocuted and killed in the kitchen of his house. A solicitor failed to issue a writ in time and deprived the plaintiff of the opportunity to pursue court proceedings.
Held: Damages were not . .
CitedBrown v KMR Services Ltd CA 26-Jul-1995
Allied Maples had made a corporate takeover of assets and businesses within the Gillow group of companies, during which it was negligently advised by the defendant solicitors in relation to seeking protection against contingent liabilities of . .
CitedMount v Barker Austin (a Firm) CA 18-Feb-1998
The plaintiff sought damages for professional negligence from his former solicitors in respect of their conduct of a claim on his behalf. He succeeded, but was awarded no damages because the judge had found that his action would be bound to fail. He . .
CitedSharif and Others v Garrett and Co CA 31-Jul-2001
The applicants sought damages from the defendant solicitors who had failed to prosecute properly a claim for damages. Their building was damaged by fire, but they had not been insured. The action was against the brokers. The court had awarded them . .
CitedDixon v Clement Jones Solicitors (A Firm) CA 8-Jul-2004
The defendant firm had negligently allowed a claim for damages against a firm of accountants to become statute barred. The defendants said the claim was of no or little value, since the claimant would have proceeded anyway.
Held: The court had . .
CitedMcGraddie v McGraddie and Another (Scotland) SC 31-Jul-2013
The parties were father and son, living at first in the US. On the son’s wife becoming seriously ill, the son returned to Scotland. The father advanced a substantal sum for the purchase of a property to live in, but the son put the properties in his . .
CitedHousen v Nikolaisen 28-Mar-2002
Supreme Court of Canada – Torts – Motor vehicles – Highways – Negligence – Liability of rural municipality for failing to post warning signs on local access road — Passenger sustaining injuries in motor vehicle accident on rural road — Trial judge . .
CitedRe B (A Child) (Care Proceedings: Threshold Criteria) SC 12-Jun-2013
B had been removed into care at birth. The parents now appealed against a care order made with a view to B’s adoption. The Court was asked as to the situation where the risks were necessarily only anticipated, and as to appeals against a finding of . .
CitedHenderson v Foxworth Investments Limited and Another SC 2-Jul-2014
It was said that land, a hotal and gold courses, had been sold at an undervalue and that the transaction was void as against the seller’s liquidator.
Held: The appeal was allowed. The critical issue was whether ‘the alienation was made for . .
At CAPerry v Raleys Solicitors CA 28-Apr-2017
Appeal against dismissal of claim against the claimant’s former solicitors. Negligence was found, but no loss was proved in his personal injury claim. He had claimed a settlement at an undervalue of his claim of Vibration White Finger. The judge at . .
CitedFage UK Ltd and Another v Chobani UK Ltd and Another CA 28-Jan-2014
Lewison LJ said: ‘Appellate courts have been repeatedly warned, by recent cases at the highest level, not to interfere with findings of fact by trial judges, unless compelled to do so. This applies not only to findings of primary fact, but also to . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Professional Negligence, Litigation Practice

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.633293