Woodward v Wolferstans (A Firm): ChD 20 Mar 1997

The plaintiff purchased a house. Her mortgage was to be guaranteed by her father. The defendant solicitors acted for her and her father, but the father had almost exclusive contact with the firm, and was in practice their princpal client. She said that the solicitors had been negligent in faiing to advise her that she and not the guarantor would be liable as principle to make payments under the charge.
Held: Her claim failed. Though the solicitor’s duty of care extended beyond that to his immediate guarantor client to the person executing the mortgage also, and the solicitor had adopted the special relationship with the plaintiff so as to owe her a duty of care, his duty did not extend beyond securing proper execution of the deed, and the obtaining of a proper title. The solicitor’s contract was with the father, and the contract could not be rewritten by the court to add duties to a third party.


Mrs Martin Mann QC


Times 08-Apr-1997


England and Wales


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 . .

Cited by:

CitedHughes and others (By Their Litigation Friend) v Richards (Trading As Colin Richards and Co ) CA 9-Mar-2004
Parents and their children claimed against a tax adviser for negligence in relation to setting up an offshore trust. The defendant applied to strike out the children’s claim on the basis that the defendant owed them no duty of care and only the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Professional Negligence

Updated: 10 June 2022; Ref: scu.90594