We represented a Mr & Mrs G. under a CFA concerning a professional negligence case involving the conveyance of property.

Mr & Mrs G were tenants of a London based local authority and wished to exercise their right to buy the freehold title. In this instance, they opted to purchase 25% of the (equitable) interest in the property while continuing to pay rent for the remaining 75 %. They instructed a local firm of solicitors to proceed.

These solicitors began the conveyance process but things ground to a halt once they approached the completion stage. In fact, they failed to complete at all despite being served by the local authority with two notices to complete and a final notice to complete. As a result, the local authority withdrew their consent to the transaction much to the disappointment of Mr & Mrs G. who instructed us to review their rights.

In view of the fact that the solicitors instructed by Mr & Mrs G. were clearly negligent in failing to complete, we offered our services to them under a CFA and duly sent out a letter of claim. The claim comprised of a damages claim of 25% of the purchase value of the property as of the date of completion plus damages for the increase in the value of the property taking into account the rate of inflation from the date of completion to the date of the letter of claim and continuing.

The defendants initially denied liability but then made a Part 36 offer of a figure representing the above 25% value which was rejected. Having obtained chartered surveyor expert evidence concerning the increase in the value of the property as a whole from the date of completion to the date of the report, we put in a Part 36 offer with a figure to represent the 25% value plus a reasonable increase in the value of the property taking inflation into account.

Further negotiations, taking into account dangers as to costs and the vagaries of litigation resulted in a settlement at £10,000 damages plus costs. A very satisfactory outcome for Mr & Mrs G. who, while they have £10,000 in their pockets, still rent their property from the local authority. We advised them both to settle in view of there being very little case authority concerning an accurate damages figure that the court would be likely to award in these circumstances.

However, we would hope that this outcome serves as a warning to solicitors & conveyancers to make sure they complete on time.


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