Our professional negligence team have successfully represented co-owners in a claim for professional negligence against their former solicitors who acted for them in the acquisition of their family home.
The property consisted of a detached house with a large plot of land to the rear (including an Olympic sized manége). Several years after the purchase they discovered that they had not been registered as the owner of the plot of land to the rear as it had not been included in the contract for sale, even though then Seller had agreed that it should have been sold.
Limitation for bringing a claim
Because of concerns over limitation, a protective claim was issued through the Court whilst investigations continued as to whether the title could be rectified. This was necessary to ensure that our clients discharged their duty to mitigate their loss, i.e. if the title could be perfected they would have been put back into the same position they should have been in “but for” the solicitors’ negligence.
Representative action by Official Solicitor
To complicate matters, the Seller had moved to Spain and had since died intestate. Her only son had emigrated to the USA and refused to be involved and so there was no party against whom any claim would be brought on behalf of the Seller’s Estate. It required the Official Solicitor to act in a representative capacity on behalf of the Estate and a claim for rectification was to be made against the Estate.
Finally, the Seller’s son agreed to act, provided any Letters of Administration on his mother’s Estate were limited to dealing with the defective title to the property. This necessitated a highly unusual application to the District Probate Registry Office under s.116 of the Supreme Court Act limited the son’s liability (and entitlement) to the plot of land to the rear of our clients’ property which was subsequently conveyed.
Resolution of claim
As a consequence of our professional negligence team’s efforts, our clients had discharged their duty to mitigate their loss and they subsequently settled the claim with the solicitors for an indemnity for the costs that our clients had incurred in regaining ownership of their land.
For advice on professional negligence issues and property disputes in England and Wales, please contact our team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 029 20 34 55 11.