Patrick Lawrence QC
Christ Church, Oxford, 1st class degree in P.P.E
Tel: +44 20 7822 2038
Email Clerk: email@example.com
Year of Call: 1985
Year of Silk: 2002
Chambers & Partners Professional Negligence QC of the year in 2011, Patrick has appeared in a number of leading cases at appellate level. He recently defended expert witness immunity in the Supreme Court in Jones v Kaney. “A superlative silk, who ‘retains a sense of humour even in the heat of the battle’ He is a particularly good bet if you have a novel legal problem since he has exceptionally good powers of analysis and comes up with ‘creative ideas on how to approach difficult cases’.” [Chambers; 2012]
Many of his recent professional negligence cases have been in the commercial and company law sectors. This work fits well with his expertise in auditors' negligence and his involvement in claims against investment/pensions advisers, tax advisers, and other financial services professionals. He is numerate (as barristers go). He is retained in cases where effective cross-examination is considered critical. Many of his cases involve allegations of fraud or other impropriety in the commercial world, and he is prepared to read closely large amounts of material in order to find out what really went on, and then – if necessary – to go to court to prove it. Recent cases include ones involving the frauds of Shaid Luqman, Bernie Madoff and Langbar International PLC, and various tax avoidance/evasion schemes.
There is an obvious connection between his professional liability work and disciplinary proceedings involving professionals, and he has acted for complainants and respondents in relation to conduct issues concerning solicitors, barristers, accountants and surveyors. He has conducted a number of substantial hearings involving allegations of misconduct against auditors on behalf of the JDS and the AADB, the bodies responsible for investigating complaints against auditors in cases raising issues of public interest.
He is frequently retained to advise on coverage issues, particularly in the field of professional indemnity insurance.
He studies chance and probability, not only in the legal context, and has readily adapted to the brave new world in which lawyers are required to gamble on the success of their own cases. He has recently advised in a number of cases raising issues as to the effectiveness of ATE policies following the failure of claims run on CFA/ATEs.
Patrick operates also in the field of public law, particularly in cases impinging on politics and party funding. In 2010 he appeared for the successful appellant in the Supreme Court in UKIP v Electoral Commission.
He is a co-author of the chapter on solicitors’ negligence in the Lloyds looseleaf on Professional Negligence.
Patrick is frequently instructed in cases involving issues in the Chancery field; tax, trusts, company law and real property. Present and recent (2010-12) cases include:
- A long-running matter (Lexi Holdings PLC v Pannone) before Briggs J., arising out of the frauds of Shaid Luqman. Issues arising included difficult points as to the implied actual authority and apparent authority of a director to give unconventional instructions on behalf of a company.
- Smith v Contact Holdings Ltd; scope of managing director’s authority to instruct lawyers in connection with shareholder dispute.
- Litigation arising out of the Tax Tribunal’s decision in relation to an Eclipse film finance scheme that the participants in the scheme were not trading.
- Litigation arising out of the failure of other film finance and container leasing tax avoidance schemes.
- Former Queen of Malaysia v Lattey & Dawe; trial before Hodge J. concerning tax advice given in connection with the late King of Malaysia’s holdings in the UK and abroad.
- Dore v Leicestershire CC  EWHC 1387; 2 week trial before Sales J; issues as to trust law; charities; local government.
- £5m claim arising out of allegedly defective advice concerning rights to light.
- Probate litigation concerning allegations of undue influence in relation to a will.
- Litigation concerning delay in commercial conveyancing.
- Directors disqualification proceedings.
- Christofi v Schubert Murphy; claims arising out of the setting up of a bogus solicitor’s practice; issues as to scope of solicitors’ undertakings; jurisdiction of Compensation Fund.
- Turpin v Brabners Chaffe Street; allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and conflicts of interest in relation to the sale of a substantial company.
Commercial Dispute Resolution
Patrick has appeared in a wide range of commercial contract cases, both in court and before arbitrators. He has extensive experience of the obtaining of interim remedies in the commercial context.
Patrick’s familiarity with (i) claims arising out of failed litigation and (ii) insurance law has led to the development of a practice in the field of costs law, in particular in relation to the ‘fall-out’ from failed litigation which has been supported by CFA/ATE packages. Costs cases in 2009/10 include: IOMA Insurance v Wake Smith - failure of multiparty industrial illness litigation supported by CFA/ATE packages; 3 week trial in 2010 in Mercantile Court of costs/ATE issues arising therefrom; (ii) Automotive Latch Systems v Honeywell Inc. - advising on ATE cover following failure of >$100m commercial claim giving rise to >$15m costs liabilities; (iii) Hunt v Harlock – successful appeal against a ruling that a clerical error in an ATE policy vitiated the cover and meant that the premium was irrecoverable; (iv) Astaldi SPA v [a firm of solicitors] claim by Italian construction company in respect of disbursements relating to litigation in Algeria.
Chambers and Partners 2013 describe Patrick as "very bright" with a "huge ability to take in massive amounts of detail in very complex cases and make them straightforward."
He has appeared for solicitors and surveyors in front of their professional disciplinary bodies on numerous occasions. In the last 4 years he has been retained in disciplinary matters involving solicitors, barristers, a handwriting expert, a psychologist and a county councillor. He has advised on judicial review remedies in this field and has been concerned in a judicial review application against the Bar Council. He is very familiar with issues arising where a complainant has delayed unreasonably before lodging the complaint. He has been retained by the JDS and the AADB (the bodies charged with investigating public interest allegations against the auditors of public companies) to conduct four substantial tribunal hearings.
He is currently acting in judicial review proceedings against the ICAEW concerning a complaint against a chartered accountant; and in the first matter to go before the Disciplinary Committee of the Insolvency Practitioners Association for a number of years.
Insurance & Reinsurance
Patrick's extensive practice in this area has focused on disputes between insurer and insured concerning questions of construction, and the avoidance of policies for non-disclosure, misrepresentation and fraud. He has appeared in a number of contested trials at which the honesty of the insured has been the subject of a direct challenge. He has frequently advised on the relationship between the solicitors’ policies now written by the commercial market and the run off insurance administered by SIF; and has acted as in arbitrator in that connection. He is currently (2010) advising on coverage issues relating to claims arising out the Madoff fraud; and is acting in two arbitrations concerning the operation and construction of the ‘Minimum Terms’; in particular issues as to ‘Successor Practices’ and the liability of insurers to indemnify in respect of issues arising out of disputes as to costs and fees.
Accountants, Auditors & Actuaries
Patrick has acted in a number of claims against accountants that have gone to trial and to appeal. The cases have concerned tax advice; investment advice; general financial advice to private individuals and family; and a wide range of advice to corporate clients. A representative case is Little v George Little Sebire which involved defective advice on Corporation Tax and related tax avoidance issues. In 2007 he appeared in Haines Watts v Thornhill, a multi party case arising out of a container leasing tax avoidance scheme involving solicitors, accountants and tax counsel. He is currently (2010) acting in the fall-out from the failed Cabvision litigation, which itself concerned another over-ambitious tax avoidance scheme.
Auditors’ negligence is a separate area of expertise. He has conducted three lengthy contested cases, Resort Hotels, Wiggins and Mayflower (each involving much pre-hearing investigation and drafting, and each going to a contested hearing before the tribunal) on behalf of the Joint Disciplinary Scheme, or the AADB. He has extensive knowledge of auditing and accounting standards; and in particular of the issues that arise where auditors suspect fraud on the part of management, or where auditors are asked by management to recognise revenue/profit prematurely or inappropriately. He is currently (2010) advising on the position of a chartered accountant in relation to the largest ever fraud on the AIM, Langbar International PLC.
He has acted in many cases in the field of construction involving allegations of negligence against construction professionals. For instance, the B&Q litigation where he acted for a sub-contractor, one of the three primary defendants in 8-sided litigation arising out of the catastrophic failure of a major development of a brownfield site in Luton. The case raised many issues, including the liability of a tenderer in tort; the potential liability of a developer and its engineers for non-disclosure of material information during the tender process; the interplay of environmental factors and strict contractual obligations; and the ability of an assignee to recover more than would have been recoverable by the assignor. He is currently instructed on 7-8 figure claims arising out of the negligent design of above-ground drainage; negligent design of fireproofing; and negligent engineering work on slope stability issues.
Financial Services Professionals
His familiarity with claims against accountants fits well with claims arising out of bad investment advice. He is currently instructed on claims arising out of the mis-selling of endowment mortgages; out of the marketing of ‘zeros’; and out of the negligent management of a portfolio of equities (excessive weighting in technology and internet stocks).
Insurance Brokers & Agents
He has acted in many claims against insurance brokers. Not many have reached court, but that may partly be because such claims tend to be rather difficult to defend on liability issues. He has recently obtained permission to appeal the judgment in Environcom v Miles Smith Insurance Brokers  EWHC 759 (Comm). The appeal will involve a close examination of the ability of negligent brokers to escape liability by arguing “you would not have been able to obtain valid insurance in any event”.
Patrick has wide experience of all forms of litigation arising out of claims against lawyers. In the 1990s he was frequently instructed by the Solicitors Indemnity Fund in cases involving errors made (allegedly) in a very wide range of areas of legal practice. He was instructed in the managed litigation involving claims brought by the Bristol & West Building Society, which went to a 12-week trial before Chadwick J. He was subsequently instructed in further managed litigation and mediation concerning claims brought by other lenders. His involvement in the protracted duel between lenders and those who insure solicitors has left him with an understanding not only of most forms of mortgage fraud and incompetent conveyancing, but also of the increasing significance of equitable and proprietary claims in the context of professional liability and of the delicate handling required in cases containing allegations of impropriety. He is currently acting for the defendant solicitors in Lexi v Pannone, a claim arising out of the £100m fraud perpetrated by the managing director of the claimant company which raises Stone & Rolls illegality issues; for the defendant solicitors in the case brought by Earl Spencer in relation to the conduct of divorce proceedings; and for the claimant in proceedings against the lawyers who acted in the unsuccessful Cabvision litigation.
Patrick co-authors the section on solicitors’ negligence in the Lloyds Looseleaf on Professional Negligence.
Surveyors & Valuers
Much of Patrick’s work in the 1990s related to allegedly over-optimistic valuations. He appeared in Platform Home Loans, the leading authority on the interaction in claims against valuers of the Saamco principle and contributory negligence on the part of claimant lenders. In 2009 he acted for the claimant in McKay v Savills – a claim arising out of dishonest collusion between buyer and property professionals.
Since the market collapse in 2008-09 he has been retained in a large number of high value claims against valuers, and is very familiar with the issues that arise where claims arise out of aggressive lending practices of 2000-2008. In 2010 he appeared for the successful defendant in K/S Lincoln v CBRE  EWHC 1156, a claim concerning the valuation of a £40m portfolio of hotels. The case stands as the most up-to-date authority on the “margin of error defence”. Since then, Patrick has been looking to develop the reach of that defence in cases involving residual valuations of commercial developments, where a small and permissible variation in relation to one component of the valuation can lead to the final valuation figure being ‘out’ by a very significant margin. He has also been considering the issues that arise where an employee of the claimant lender may have acted improperly in relation to the making of the loan in question, and has been exploring the ways in which evidence of an individual’s impropriety may provide a valuer with a complete defence. He is currently acting in claims involving a €200m portfolio of commercial properties in Benelux/Germany; a failed residential development in the SW of England; and a £140m commercial valuation in the Midlands, among others.
Public Law and Human Rights
Patrick has considerable experience of applications for judicial review arising out of his work in the disciplinary/regulatory context. He has appeared in a number of reported cases concerning the construction of statutes pursuant to s.3 of the Human Rights Act – eg. Cachia v Faluyi. In the last few years this grounding has enabled Patrick to develop his public law practice, especially in the field of political activity and the funding of political parties. In 2010 he acted in the Supreme Court for the successful appellant in R (on application of Electoral Commission) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court; UKIP as interested party  UKCC 40.
Patrick Lawrence comes from a racing family. He has conducted a number of hearings before the BHA’s Disciplinary Panel, and has recently joined the Panel as one of its three legally qualified members. He has acted in many cases concerning sports spread betting, and has drafted the standard terms used by the members of the Sports Spread Betting Association. Recent cases include: (i) McGarel Groves v Glyn; action arising out of death of international dressage horse; (ii) BHA v Warwick Racecourse; 2day hearing arising out of abandonment of racing at Warwick; (iii) BHA v Wigham & MacKay; 2 day hearing into Rule 155/157 complaints.
He appeared for the successful defendant in Venturi v Coral Eurobet  EWHC 2139, a claim brought by an internet gambler who alleged that he had turned 20 euros into 700,000 euros in 2 hours.