Patrick Lawrence QC

Education

Christ Church, Oxford, 1st class degree in P.P.E




Tel: +44 20 7822 2038
Email: p.lawrence@4newsquare.com
Email Clerk: a.call@4newsquare.com

Year of Call: 1985
Year of Silk: 2002

Profile

Lawrence, Patrick

Chambers & Partners Professional Negligence QC of the year in 2011, Patrick has appeared in a number of leading cases at appellate level. He defended expert witness immunity in the Supreme Court in Jones v Kaney. If you believe the Directories:  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] “a Rolls-Royce silk ... able and approachable in equal measure, one of the most in demand professional indemnity barristers ... first port of call, particularly when it comes to large surveyors’ and valuers’ claims ...  a towering courtroom presence .. superb in complex heavyweight cases, known for razor-sharp mind and ability to take a witness apart.

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. Currently retained in a number of valuers’ claims arising out of 8-figure commercial loans made in the mid-2000s, including the Titan case which raises novel issues as to title to sue in securitisations and which goes to trial in summer 2014.

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, the AADB and now the FRC, 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.

 


Professional Liability

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.  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 acted 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, the AADB or now the FRC. 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 acted on auditor and director complaints arising out of the largest ever fraud on the AIM, Langbar International PLC - 2011-12) and arising out of the Farepak collapse (the Christmas hampers case) – 2013.

Construction Professionals

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 [2010] 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”.

Lawyers

Patrick has very extensive 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 acted 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. In 2013 he successfully defended the Petrocapital claim, which concerned advice on convertible loan notes against the background of a bolier room scam. He is currently acting in numerous claims arising out of the over-heated property market of the mid-2000s, including the managed Right-to-Buy 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 [2010] 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 £1.2bn commercial portfolio valuation; a €300m portfolio of commercial properties in Benelux/Germany; a £250m commercial valuation in the Midlands; a £150m hotel portfolio valuation; among others. He acts in Titan what is thought to be the first valuer’s claim to raise issues as to title to sue in the context of securitisation – going to trial in the Commercial Court in summer 2014.


Chancery

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:


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.  

 

 


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 has advised on coverage issues relating to claims arising out the Madoff fraud. In 2013-14 he has appeared in numerous (c. 10-15) arbitrations in the field of PI cover, raising issues as to the operation and construction of the ‘Minimum Terms’; as to ‘Successor Practices’; as to the liability of insurers to indemnify in respect of issues arising out of disputes as to costs and fees; and (of course) as to notification and aggregation.


Costs

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.


Disciplinary

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."; 2014: “a class act who is very user-friendly”.

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 accountants/auditors, 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 judicial review applications against the Bar Council and the ICAEW.  He is very familiar with issues arising where a complainant has delayed unreasonably before lodging the complaint.  He has been frequently been retained by the JDS/ AADB/FRC (the bodies charged with investigating public interest allegations against the auditors of public companies) to conduct substantial complaints against auditors and accountants in business.

He has recently (2013) acted in judicial review proceedings against the ICAEW concerning a complaint against a chartered accountant (Crookenden v ICAEW); and in the first matter to go before the Disciplinary Committee of the Insolvency Practitioners Association for a number of years.


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 [2010] UKCC 40. He appears for claimants in the claim against DECC for damages under the Human Right Act which arises out of the attempt to make retrospective changes to solar heating tariffs, held unlawful in SoS for Energy and Climate Change v Friends of the Earth [2012] EWCA Civ 28.


Sports Law

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 [2012] EWHC 2139, a claim brought by an internet gambler who alleged that he had turned 20 euros into 700,000 euros in 2 hours.