Ben is top rated and cited in the Directories as one of the ‘big beasts’ of the professional liability world. Ben has very considerable experience in all aspects of professional liability claims, especially those with a commercial element. Ben also has very considerable experience in multi-party litigation. He acted for the majority of the 650 odd panel solicitors sued by ATE insurers in the TAG Litigation following the collapse of the Accident Group. Similarly, he acted for the lead defence group in the CLE Litigation. He successfully resisted the application made on behalf of miners for a Group Litigation Order arising from alleged misappropriation of damages paid under the Coal Miners Compensation Scheme. He acted for the solicitor firm sued in the Innovator Litigation. He acted for one of the Major Defendant firms of solicitors in the Right to Buy Litigation. Claims involving security documentation and undue influence remain a particular interest, Ben having acted for the Law Society and the solicitor appellant in Etridge.
Ben is at the forefront of the wave of lender claims against both solicitors and valuers following on from the credit crunch. He acted for the lender in Nationwide v Dunlop Haywards, obtaining summary judgment on the £20m+ deceit claim, and in the associated claims against the solicitors involved. He is now acting both on numerous claims arising from high value (£10m+) individual transactions and also multi-claim actions arising from alleged mortgage fraud rings. He defended the innocent partner in relation to claims of alleged dishonesty against his fellow partner in some 500 odd conveyancing transactions. In E-surv v Goldsmith Williams he successfully argued that the Bowerman duty survives the imposition of the CML Handbook. Ben also has particular expertise in limitation (having appeared for the successful defendants in the Court of Appeal in Axa v Akhtar) and issues arising under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978.
Ben is also heavily involved in claims arising from the failure of (what were intended to be) tax-advantaged investment or film schemes. He regularly acts for both high net worth individuals (often from the sporting world) who have found themselves caught up in the adverse financial and taxation consequences, as well as accountants, tax advisers and IFAs who advised on such schemes. .
In addition to appearing in the English Courts, Ben acts on claims in a number of Caribbean jurisdictions, including the BVI and the Cayman Islands.
Ben is in demand as a lecturer on professional indemnity related issues. He is Chairman of the Professional Negligence Bar Association. Previously, he ran the Lawyers Liability annual seminar for that Association, as well as the professional negligence seminar on lender litigation for the Chancery Bar Association annual meeting. In addition to that, he lectures regularly on professional liability related issues to Specialist Bar Associations, insurers and solicitors.
Ben has acted and continues to act in the major lawyers liabilities’ claims of the day. Ben’s expertise covers all areas of lawyers liabilities, including in particular lender litigation, defective tax and investment schemes, mishandled litigation, failed joint ventures and confidentiality/privilege issues. Multi-party actions are a particular interest. He acted for the majority of the 650 odd firms of solicitors sued in the TAG Litigation and for the lead defence group in the CLE Litigation. He successfully resisted the application made on behalf of miners for a Group Litigation Order arising from alleged misappropriation of damages paid under the Coal Miners Compensation Scheme. He acted for the solicitor’s firm sued in the Innovator Litigation. He acted for one of the Major Defendants in the Right to Buy Litigation.
Examples of cases leading to judgments can be found in the cases section below. In addition, Ben has acted and continues to act on large numbers of complex and high value cases, about which confidentiality means relatively little can be said. Some examples include:
- acting for claimants and defendants on large-scale lender litigation, including dealing with consideration of appropriate causes of action, interaction with contributory negligence and the measure of damage
- acting on a claim for $100m + loss said to have been suffered by re-insurers as a result of class action in the US being rendered more expensive due to destruction of evidence by defendant solicitors
- acting for defendant city firm on £25m+ claim arising from consequences of service of notice extending charters for freight vessels
- acting for claimant on claim for £8m for unauthorized settlement of Sempra type claim against HMRC
- acting for defendant on claim for £5m for alleged bad advice on attempt to takeover board of company
- acting for claimant on claim in BVI alleging that on island company officers facilitated unauthorized sale of beneficiary’s property in Brazil
Accountants, Auditors & Actuaries
Ben regularly acts on claims against accountants and tax advisers. Having acted for the Defendant solicitors in the Innovator Litigation, a particular expertise is litigation arising from the failure of (what were intended to be) tax advantaged investment or film schemes. Ben variously acts for both high net worth individuals (often from the sports world) who entered into ill-fated tax schemes, and the accountants, tax advisers and IFAs who advised on such schemes. Ben has acted and is acting on claims arising from, among others, the Innovator, Tower M Cashback, Eclipse, Ice-breaker, Little Wings, Samarkand, Resolve, Fortitude, Perseus and Scion Schemes. Recent or ongoing cases include a claim by a group of high net worth individuals against one of the big four accountancy firms, a claim by a boxing promoter against his former accountant relating to a failed insurance policy entered into in respect of a failed tax scheme, and a claim by one of the world’s leading football managers against his former tax advisers.
In addition to failed tax schemes, Ben regularly acts on other accountants and auditors negligence cases. Examples of recent cases include:
- advising special liquidators of collapsed Irish Bank in relation to potential claims against external auditors
- claim by bank’s liquidator for $900m against Cayman auditors for alleged failure to spot fraudulent business model; claim involves both ex turpi causa and traditional breach and causation issues
- claim by hedge fund manager against insolvency practitioner for £10m+ for alleged inability to work in investment due to criminal conviction said to be caused by insolvency practitioner’s negligence (Griffin v Hacker Young  PNLR 20)
- claim against tax advisers for advising company and shareholder to enter into a defective Share Scheme tax avoidance scheme
- claims against auditors for failure to identify director’s fraud and thefts
- claim against big 4 firm of accountants for negligent advice in relation to a non residency scheme aimed at avoiding CGT
- claims against accountants for negligent accounting and tax advice
In relation to actuaries, Ben has in depth knowledge of the pensions industry and the workings of large life offices having spent two years leading the successful prosecution of the successive chief executives of Equitable Life for professional misconduct. Ben has acted and is acting on various claims against actuaries (and often scheme solicitors also) relating to alleged misadministration of pension schemes, including re Barber window problems.
Financial Services Professionals
Ben is regularly instructed on claims involving financial services professionals. Often this involves acting for claimants and defendants in relation to financial advice and pension cases. It also includes claims over against financial advisers following on from allegedly defective tax and investment schemes. Ben is currently acting on the claims over against financial advisers arising from the multi-party Innovator Litigation.
Examples of other recent cases include:
- advising on whether financial services networks liable under Section 39 of FSMA for acts or omissions of Appointed Representatives
- claims against advisers alleging failure to advise of multi-currency facility for large loan account
- claims against advisers alleging defective advice in relation to transfer from pension schemes
- claims against advisers alleging defective IHT planning
- consideration of whether particular activities FSA regulated or not
- consideration of whether activities amount to collective investment schemes or not
Insurance Brokers & Agents
Ben regularly acts on insurance brokers’ claims, typically defending insurance brokers. Ben is very familiar with the issues that arise in tripartite litigation involving insurers, insureds and insurance brokers.
Surveyors & Valuers
Ben has acted on claims against Surveyors and Valuers throughout his career and has been at the forefront of the new wave of litigation against surveyors and valuers following on from the credit crunch. Ben acted for Nationwide in its claims against Dunlop Haywards arising from the fraudulent acts of their valuer, Mr McGarry, and successfully obtained summary judgment in deceit for £20m+. At present, Ben is acting on a large number of claims brought by lenders against Surveyors and Valuers.
Recent and ongoing cases include:
- claims by lenders against valuers said to have fraudulently or recklessly overvalued both commercial and residential properties
- claims by lenders against valuers said to have negligently overvalued both commercial and residential properties
- claims by lenders against valuers said to have overvalued portfolios of public houses across England and Wales
- claims by lenders against valuers said to have overvalued portfolios of commercial properties, including sale and leaseback and buy to let transactions in respect of substantial property portfolios