M.A. Vet M.B. (Cantab.) Dip. Law (City)
Tel: +44 20 7822 2036
Email Clerk: firstname.lastname@example.org
Year of Call: 1997
Since joining in 1998 following pupillage in Chambers and an earlier career as a veterinary surgeon, Siân has established a thriving practice in professional liability claims, insurance and construction/engineering. Siân has a particular interest in disputes involving technical and scientific elements and this has led to a strong construction and engineering practice with regular appearances in the TCC.
Siân was recently awarded Professional Negligence Junior of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards and is ranked in Chambers & Partners: “Regularly acts in complex professional negligence disputes. She demonstrates notable expertise in financial claims and cases with an international element”; "The great thing about her is that on every occasion her advice is strong, firm and consistent, which allows us to get an excellent settlement." "She's very strong on complex matters."
She is also ranked by Legal 500 in the Leading Juniors – Professional Negligence section: ‘Very bright, robust, dedicated and thorough’'; "Siân Mirchandani provides sensible, commercial and practical advice"; '"Her strong understanding of the key issues in a case ensure that solicitors feel confident that 'every angle is covered; “Dedicated and articulate, with excellent attention to detail.”
Impressed solicitors say that “rising star for construction and solicitors claims” Siân is “one to watch", and that Siân is “a joy to work with - very bright”.
Siân has wide and considerable experience of professional liability claims, including claims against lawyers (solicitors and barristers), architects, engineers, insurance brokers and agents, surveyors and valuers, accountants, financial services professionals, land management agents, farm management agents, estate agents, clinicians and veterinary surgeons. Siân is a TECBAR accredited adjudicator.
She also has considerable experience of professional disciplinary matters (particularly architects), arbitrations, adjudications and mediations. Having qualified from Cambridge University as a veterinary surgeon in 1992, Siân worked in academic and general practice as a veterinary surgeon before coming to the Bar and joining Chambers in 1998.
Siân has been editor and co-author of the chapter on claims against health professionals in the 5th and 6th Editions of Jackson & Powell on Professional Negligence.
Siân is a member of the Professional Negligence Bar Association, COMBAR, TECBAR, the Chancery Bar Association and the London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association.
‘Very bright, robust, dedicated and thorough’ - Legal 500, 2015 (Leading Junior: Professional Negligence)
Siân has considerable experience of claims involving professionals of all types. The Directories speak of Siân as a “rising star for construction and solicitors claims”; “one to watch”, and her profile is described as continuing “to skyrocket”.
With a professional and scientific background, Siân relishes cases which involve scientific aspects or technical issues, and this has led to a strong practice in the Technology & Construction Court. Her practical, ‘hands on’ approach has led to instructions from civil engineering and other building contractors and sub-contractors, and this ‘pure construction’ work complements her continuing construction professionals’ practice.
Siân has particularly developed a practice involving claims arising from design and construction of farm or agricultural buildings, where the combination of her veterinary background and her experience in construction claims as well as professional liability claims has given her clients a considerable advantage.
In recent years Siân has been involved in defending high value claims against major firms of valuers in cases involving commercial properties packaged as ‘tax efficient’ investments in Denmark and the UK. These cases involved valuations using yields and estimates of rental income for hotels (K/S Lincoln et al v CBRE Richard Ellis) and factory outlet centres (Capita Alternative Fund Services & Matrix Securities v Drivers Jonas), where value was added due to the tax savings to be obtained.
Apart from the main fields of professional liability, Siân has also been involved with claims concerning agricultural land agents' negligence and estate agent’s negligence.
Siân particularly enjoys cases in all areas of her practice which involve working alongside solicitors, and other professionals, as part of an interchangeable team, dealing with vast amounts of documentation, or claims involving large numbers of sub-claims.
Siân has experience of using electronic databases and e-documents, rather than conventional paper documents, and has been involved in an e-disclosure exercise in a major construction claim arising from a housing estate.
Accountants, Auditors & Actuaries
Sian has acted for and against accountants including:
- Currently acting on a high value ‘lost litigation’ case involving underlying accountants’ negligent advice for payment of VAT for cross borders’ business activities leading to company insolvency.
- Professional disciplinary proceedings arising out of allegedly negligent advice on tax planning
- Acting for various accountants on negligent tax advice allegations.
- Acting on behalf of a former Lloyds’ name in a claim against accountants for negligent tax mitigation advice
Sian was also involved in major litigation arising from tax deferral and avoidance schemes involving film finance (Chase Manhattan Bank v HIH Insurance). The various pieces of this litigation, which centred on particular ‘film slates’ came to involve teams from many of London’s largest firms of solicitors, and included an enormous disclosure exercise.
Sian has a particular interest in claims involving technical and scientific knowledge and this has led to a strong construction and engineering practice. Sian regularly appears in the TCC. Sian has also acted for and against construction professionals in a wide range of construction disputes including arbitrations and adjudications.
Examples of Sian’s work in this area include:
- Acting for architect in claim concerning design and planning of large scale developments of armed forces' personnel accommodation.
- Defending claim against Housing Association arising out of planning of roads, walkways and services in a new sheltered housing development.
- Claims concerning design and mismanagement of application for planning permission leading to delays and consequential losses in development and refurbishment of listed building.
- Acting for engineer in claim for allegedly negligent design and installation of duct system in a fire simulation building.
- Acting for architect in claim concerning design and construction of nursing home.
- Acting for uninsured architect in claim concerning construction in breach of planning restrictions which led to enforcement action.
- A claim against an architect for failure to provide a design which took account of and remedied known structural defects.
Financial Services Professionals
Sian has experience of claims against independent financial advisers, including:
- Recently acted for defendant financial advisers in a secure capital bond mis-selling claim.
- Claims involving tax avoidance schemes involving film finance
- Pension mis-selling claims.
- Investment mis-selling and client mis-classification claims
- Insurance mis-selling claims.
- Acting on an appointed representatives' claim brought under the Commercial Agents(Council Directive) Regulations 1993 against the represented insurers.
Sian’s recent experience includes acting on a claim concerning alleged misadvice on a tax avoidance scheme involving film finance.
Insurance Brokers & Agents
Sian has acted for a number of the prominent insurance broking practices. She has also represented clients against their former insurance brokers in claims concerning selling unsuitable products, failing to advise of necessary products, failure by broker and/or client to give material disclosure to insurer; claims concerning a chain of brokers: introducing, producing, placing brokers, and their respective liabilities to insured and insurer. Sian is often instructed in multi-party disputes where both insurers and brokers are defendants.
Examples of Sian’s work in this area includes:
- Acting for a ship owner against insurance broker for misplacement of risk via an introducing broker and failure to advise of a premium warranty clause
- Acting in a trial concerning the insurance broker’s role as agent for passing on information relating to a claim and advising client as to whether an “event” within the policy had occurred
Sian’s recent experience includes:
- A claim involving insurers’ avoidance due to breach of ‘deep fat frying’ warranty where breach was due to nature of construction of the building housing the restaurant business
- A dispute amongst brokers in the broking chain over obligations to review incorrect policy documentation for a property portfolio
Siân has acted in a variety of lawyers’ negligence claims, (acting for and against both solicitors and barristers). Siân acted on behalf of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund and the defendant solicitors in the "Immunity Appeals" in Arthur J.S. Hall v. Simons  1 AC 615). This case involved five appeals to the Court of Appeal and then the House of Lords, and centred on the question of whether an advocate should be liable in negligence for work carried out in court (or ‘at the door of the court’). The decision from a seven man House of Lords led to the abrogation of barristers' immunity from suit, which was a victory for the solicitors, who could then seek contribution from the barristers they had instructed. Another issue considered, which is of particular relevance in lost litigation claims against lawyers, was the question of when an attack on a previous court’s decision was an impermissible ‘collateral attack’.
Examples of her wide experience in this area include:
- Incorrect advice on planning permission requirements
- Claims arising out of mismanagement of adjudication proceedings.
- Loss of litigation / undersettlement
- Scope of solicitor's duty to client when more than one professional advisor.
- Collateral attacks on existing judgments
- Wasted costs applications
Sian’s recent cases in this area include:
- Lenders’ claims against solicitors for failing to report irregularities on mortgage funded property purchases
- Various claims involving alleged conveyancing errors
- Various claims against solicitors and barristers acting and advising on matrimonial/ancillary relief matters including issues over pension sharing, company valuations, inadequate disclosure; contact disputes; consent order terms, agreements and Court’s approval
- Claim against a large commercial firm for alleged errors in drafting of settlement agreement
- A claim concerning negligent advice to administrative receivers on sale of assets
Surveyors & Valuers
Sian is regularly instructed to act on behalf of surveyors and valuers, and has recently been defending a number of claims brought by lenders, as well as pursuing valuers when acting for lenders and solicitors in claims arising out of mortgage transactions.
Sian has a full range of experience of:
- Claims brought by lenders
- Claims concerning overvaluation of properties including farms and commercial valuations based on rental income and yield.
- Structural survey claims, e.g. failure to detect defects; failure to detect and advise on additional parts; failure to advise of need for additional specialist surveys; failure to advise property based on red shale foundations; property development overvaluations.
- Claims involving new build properties involving NHBC and other 'structural' guarantee policies of insurance
Sian has been instructed in a large number of high value claims against valuers, and is familiar with the valuation methodologies in commercial property valuation for investment purposes and lending practices involved in securitisation transactions and portfolio lending. She is a leading junior for this area of work having been instructed in the main cases which are now cited in this area including:
- K/S Lincoln; K/S Chesterfield; K/S Wellingborough v CB Richard Ellis Hotels Ltd  EWHC 1156 (TCC), Coulson J, in the successful defence of claims concerning hotel valuations brought by Danish property owning vehicles.
- Capita Alternative Fund Services & Matrix Securities v Drivers Jonas  EWHC 2336 (Comm), Eder J ;  EWCA Civ 1417, a claim concerning valuation of a factory outlet centre in Kent.
- Titan (Europe) 2006-3 plc v Colliers  EWCA Civ 1083, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of Blair J (reported at  EWHC 3106, (Comm)), that the defendant valuer had negligently overvalued a large commercial property in Germany, for the purpose of inclusion in a portfolio of loans to be securitised by Credit Suisse.
Sian was instructed in another high value claim brought by a securitisation vehicle 'SPV' concerning the valuation of a commercial property in Germany and has recently been instructed in another high value claim concerning the valuation of a portfolio of London commercial properties valued at c. £1.5b.
Experience of acting on claims against veterinary surgeons, and in defending such claims; in disciplinary matters. Particular experience of claims concerning milk production and milk losses.
Experience of a variety of chancery matters including:
- Advising and acting for the Trustees of the Independent Living Funds (1993 and the Extension Fund), in matters concerning the interpretation of the founding trust deeds, drafting of new trust deed, claims against local authorities and clients for recovery of overpayments.
- Pursuing an extended Grepe v Loam order (Ebert v Venvil) to restrain a persistent litigant-in-person from issuing further proceedings out of High Court, County Court, Bankruptcy Court, including defending defamation claims.
- Acting for mortgagees on enforcement of mortgages.
- Application for committal to prison for contempt.
- Acting in landlord and tenant claims (both residential and commercial).
Commercial Dispute Resolution
Sian undertakes a wide range of commercial work, including general and international commercial litigation, personal and corporate insolvency, commercial contractual claims. Sian has experience of pursuing freezing injunctions and pre-action disclosure applications.
Examples of Sian’s work in this area include:
- A claim for recovery of payments made to a Dutch company for waste recycling plant, following the Dutch company's insolvency.
- A claim against US events lighting company for recovery of fees due to a consultant engaged to assist in acquiring contracts for the Olympic Games at Athens 2004.
- A fraud claim against property development company arising out of avoidance of sale on contracts for apartments
- A dispute concerning liability of insurers under the Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930.
- A dispute under the National House Building Council 'Buildmark' scheme.
- A claim for damage to business following disruption of telecommunications’ cables
- A claim for consequential losses and damage caused by supply of defective cattle feed
- Advising Scottish Power plc in respect of injunctive proceedings brought by new occupier.
Insurance & Reinsurance
Sian has wide ranging experience of advising and acting for both insurer and insured on claims concerning policy construction and coverage issues. As part of her insurance brokers’ negligence practice Sian is often instructed in claims where the insurer is the co-defendant, following avoidance of a policy.
Sian’s experience of claims in this area includes:
- Acting for excess layer insurers who successfully avoided cover and a claim under the Third Party (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930 in a multi-million pound multi-party insurance dispute arising from the construction of a supermarket
- Advising on proposed wording of policies for public liability in public houses and nightclubs, advising on vicarious liability claims.
- Advising and acting for insurers of domestic and commercial properties on claims raised, accepting and declining cover, policy repudiation in public liability, fire, explosion and domestic insurance situations, including subsidence and tree root claims.
- Claims concerning legal expenses insurance, conditional fee agreements and success fee uplifts, pursuit policies and premiums and material non-disclosures to insurers leading to insurers accepting cover in respect of undisclosed liabilities.
- Acting in a variety of multi-party disputes concerning film finance insurance (contingent expenses insurance and time variable contingent policies).
- Acting in claim for payment under health cover plan concerning reference to the Insurance Ombudsman.
Recent cases include
- Advising insurers on a ‘spread of fire’ claim
- Advising insured on claim for undersettlement and errors in loss adjustment following a flood claim
- Advising professional liability insurers on wholesale declinature of cover due to dishonest structural scheme
Siân is a former member of the Disciplinary Panel for the Council of the Inns of Court which is concerned with barristers’ conduct and service issues, and has a significant practice in defending professionals before professional disciplinary bodies, including ARB, RIBA, ACCA, ICAEW.
Siân has advised on and appeared many times before ARB panels defending architects against a range of complaints including: failure to maintain professional indemnity insurance; letter of engagement or appointment issues; failure to administer the contract, etc.
Her past and current cases include:
- Defending an architect before the RIBA on charges of breach of copyright and supplanting resulting in no sanction.
- Successfully defending a veterinary surgeon before the disciplinary panel of the RCVS.
- Successfully appealing a decision of the examination body of the RCVS in relation to post-graduate qualification.
- Defending accountants before the ACCA, on a number of claims arising out of allegedly negligent tax advice re. domicile ; alleged falsification of dates on company return documents.
- Defending an insolvency practitioner before the ICAEW on various claims arising out of an administration.
Sian provides the annual lectures on professional conduct and negligence for the students of Bristol University Veterinary School, which are accredited by the RCVS. Sian was also part of a working party advising the RCVS and drafted the RCVS' current guidance on the roles of expert witnesses.
Construction & Engineering
Siân has wide experience of advising and acting for employers, contractors and sub-contractors in disputes brought in the London and regional Technology and Construction Courts, including:
- Acting for contractors in claims against employers in large scale construction and re-furbishment contracts including claims against government department/local education authority.
- Acting for employer in claim against project manager and main contractor in construction of process plant including design, management and delay issues.
- Considerable experience of residential construction disputes advising and acting for employers, architects, contractors and sub-contractors.
- Adjudications concerning a number of building projects brought by a liquidator under HGCRA 1996.
- Acting for employer in claim against designer, project manager and contractor for negligent design and construction of a commercial showroom.
- Advising insurers of architect on pursuit of Part 20 contribution proceedings against sub-contractor via assignment of cause of action from contractor (in liquidation)
- Acting in an adjudication for contractor against subcontractor concerning final account following the installation of a flue gas desalination plant at a power station.
- Acting for employer in claim against contractor and architect for negligent design and construction of a swimming pool complex (arbitration and adjudication)
- Acting for employer in claim against specialist contractor for excessive noise resulting from plant installation for a swimming pool complex.
- Acting for a waste recycling company in a claim concerning recovery of payments made to a Dutch company following its insolvency.
- Advising a Japanese plant engineering company in respect of claims proposed against the project manager and contractors for a project based in Eire.
Recent cases include:
- Acting for dairy farmer in a claim for damages due to lost production and infertility effects of omission of a feed additive from supplied cattle feed.
- Acting for a building company in respect of a group action pursued by home owners arising from defective piling on a large housing estate.
- Numerous subrogated tree root subsidence claims brought by household contents’ insurers, including Tree Preservation Orders, planning permission application and appeal from decision.
- A claim by a farmer against a local authority landlord concerning the negligent farm design by a farm designer engaged by the local authority
- Acting for design and build contractor (and insurer) in a claim concerning deficient installation of cow cubicles resulting in injury, lameness and loss of production.
Siân has considerable experience of commercial claims, particularly claims involving fires and destruction of commercial and residential property (and contents). Alongside her insurance and reinsurance practice, Siân is regularly instructed in insurers’ subrogated claims following fires.
Current and recent cases include:
- Advising insurers on a spread of fire claim
- Advising and defending insurers of a supplier of medical equipment implicated in a residential fire involving dependency claims under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and building and contents’ claim, as well as international product liability and warranty claims against the manufacturer.
- Advising and defending insurers under a Contractors’ All Works policy following a fire during refurbishment of a leisure club.
- Advising two separate arms of the same multi-national insurance company as to the meaning and operation of design and operator error exclusions following damage of a food waste digester due to process ‘run away’ leading to over pressurisation damage.
- Advising a local authority’s insurers on expert technical evidence obtained following a fire in a garage that implicated a converted minibus as the cause of the fire, involving claims ‘up the line’ against manufacturers, suppliers and installers of the wheelchair lift fitted to the vehicle.
- Advising and defending household insurers of residential property adversely affected by run-off of water from adjoining re-profiled building site, resulting in severe inundation of the property.