In a judgment handed down in the High Court on 31 July 1, a professional negligence claim against WBD's client, national law firm and leading clinical negligence specialists Leigh Day, was dismissed in its entirety.
The claim itself arose from Leigh Day's representation of the claimant, Gabriele Shaw, at the inquest into the death of her father and related clinical negligence proceedings against the hospital and clinician involved. Mrs Shaw alleged that aspects of the inquest and clinical negligence claim had not been properly investigated causing, amongst other things, the lost opportunity for a different outcome in both as well as in related product liability and judicial review claims.
The case has already attracted significant academic interest following the decision on appeal 2 to reinstate the previously struck out claim. This was on the basis that it was found to be arguable that damages for distress and inconvenience might be recoverable from a professional as a matter of law in the context of advice on an inquest.
At trial it did not prove necessary to revisit these issues given Mrs Justice Andrews' finding that Leigh Day "carried out their instructions diligentlyand competently" and that "None of the allegations of professional negligence that have been made against Leigh Day came even close to being established on the balance of probabilities. Indeed, I have no hesitation in concluding that the criticisms that were made of them were completely unjustified".
A Leigh Day spokesman explained that:
"Leigh Day is very pleased that the Court has arrived at this decision. We take very seriously our commitment to client care and to assisting all our clients to achieve the aims for which we are instructed and adhering to all our responsibilities as a law firm".
David Rees Smith, Managing Associate at WBD, added
"We are pleased with the Court's decision, which recognises the outstanding job that Leigh Day did for its client and fully vindicates the decision of Leigh Day and its insurers to defend the matter to trial". In addition to WBD, the team instructed on behalf of Leigh Day also included John Whitting QC (1 Crown Office Row) and Elizabeth Boon (Crown Office Chambers).
1 Shaw v Leigh Day  EWHC 2034 (QB)
2 Shaw v Leigh Day  EWHC 826 (QB)