Firm sees off £600k negligence claim over aborted property purchase

Property developers who claimed a £600,000 loss from their solicitor’s mistake have lost their case after the court found the breach of care did not cost them an investment opportunity.

In Taray Investments Ltd & Anor v Gateley Heritage LLP the Honourable Mrs Justice Tipples DBE ruled that the claimants could not prove they would actually have gone ahead with the property purchase had the error had been flagged up earlier.

The claimants had entered a joint partnership in 2012 to purchase a London site which they saw as a development opportunity. They instructed Gateley Heritage partner Raymond Simpson, who had more then 20 years’ experience in advising on commercial property development and investment. The professional negligence claim came after the firm failed to spot that part of the site encroached on a footway, and in order for any development to proceed, a stopping up order would have to be obtained.

The claimants maintained that as a result of the negligence, they lost the opportunity to buy the site. They claimed damages of £600,000.

Gateley Heritage LLP, part of Gateley LLP, admitted a breach of duty of care, but denied the lost opportunity claim and said that if the claimants had the right information, they would never have taken steps to proceed with the transaction.

Tipples J concluded that Gateley Heritage was in breach of duty of care, but the claimants would not have gone ahead even if they had been advised appropriately. The claim was therefore dismissed.

The judge said she found Simpson to be a ‘careful and measured witness’ and was satisfied he gave truthful answers during cross-examination. Witnesses for the claimants, however, were not found to be satisfactory.

The judge said the claimants’ case was ‘unrealistic’ and the prospect of their acquiring and developing the site was ‘fanciful’ in the circumstances. 


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