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Professional Negligence Update – Investigate, Investigate, Investigate!

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By Sam Knight, Underwriter

(Estimated reading time: 1 minute 19 seconds)

Evans v Betesh Partnership [2021] EWCA Civ 1194 is a case concerning the professional liability of a solicitors’ firm and counsel in advising the claimant to settle a personal injury matter in 2011.

Ms Evans suffered a traumatic brain injury in a road traffic accident in 2009 and the neuropsychologist found that she ‘probably lacked capacity’ when she was advised to settle in 2011.

Mr Justice Smith in the High Court found that Ms Evans had not been deprived of the opportunity to claim damages against the original defendant as her lack of capacity meant any claim would still be in time. Criticising this approach as ‘too binary’, Sir Geoffrey Vos MR in the Court of Appeal overturned the decision, recognising that ‘as a direct result of the breaches of duty alleged… [Ms Evans] has been party to a settlement that may be difficult and costly to reopen.’

Ms Evans had not pleaded incapacity in 2011, relying on the argument that her lawyers should have spotted the issue and investigated before advising her to settle. It seems more critical than ever for lawyers to take a step back and look at the entirety of their client’s circumstances when giving advice; this judgment shows that there are more than just legal considerations which underpin the handling of a case.

Our team of expert underwriters are on-hand to provide a fresh pair of eyes for your client’s case with the highest level of knowledge and experience. A second opinion never goes amiss and can make all the difference in complex commercial matters, so please email or call him on 01483 514428.