Professional liability forms of the core of Chris’ practice, and he is frequently instructed in claims against accountants, tax advisors, financial advisors, insurance brokers, lawyers, surveyors and valuers, property agents and construction professionals. Chris regularly acts for both claimants and defendants, and often appears in the High Court as sole counsel.
In respect of accountants, tax advisors and financial advisors, Chris is rapidly developing his practice in defending claims involving allegedly negligent tax advice, and is instructed to appear (led by Graham Chapman QC) in two trials listed for March and May 2017, concerning investments in certain Eclipse and Scion film schemes, and ‘gift aid relief’ schemes. He is also instructed as sole counsel acting on behalf of three financial advisors in a claim brought by around 60 claimants, mostly former professional sportsmen, being represented Peters & Peters LLP.
As sole counsel, Chris is presently instructed on behalf of the claimants in a Commercial Court claim likely to be quantified in excess of £1m, brought by the former owners of two well-known hotels on the Blackpool Promenade against their former insurance broker. He is also instructed in a substantial claim in the Technology & Construction Court, brought on behalf of a sub-contractor in respect of an extension and partial refurbishment of a hospital in Blackburn. The claim concerns liability to the main contractor, a joint venture between two major national contractors.
Chris has also previously been involved in a number of other high profile cases. They include:
- Led by Ben Hubble QC and Amanda Savage, acting on behalf of solicitors in lead cases in the Right to Buy litigation.
- Led by Justin Fenwick QC and Graham Chapman QC, acting on behalf of CBRE in the case of Gemini (Eclipse 2006-3) Plc v CBRE Limited and Warwick Street (KS) LLP, a securitised lender claim seeking damages in excess of £230m. The claim, which concerned a property portfolio valued by the defendants at more than £1bn, was named in The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2016.
- Led by Fiona Sinclair QC and Richard Liddell, acting on the Part 20 claim by Birse Developments Ltd against its structural engineer and geotechnical design specialist in Co-operative Group Ltd v Birse Developments Ltd  BLR 359.
Since joining Chambers, Chris has completed a combined six months on secondment at three specialist professional indemnity firms, all of which are ranked in Chambers & Partners as a leading firm for a variety of professional negligence work.
Chris is a member of the Professional Negligence Bar Association.
Accountants, Auditors & Actuaries
Chris has developed a rapidly expanding practice acting on behalf of accountants and tax advisers in respect of claims concerning tax schemes, tax-efficient investments and other tax mitigation or deferral strategies.
Led by Graham Chapman QC, Chris is instructed to appear in two three-week trials listed for March and May 2017. The claims concern investments by clients in certain Eclipse and Scion film schemes, and alleged ‘gift aid relief’ schemes concerning the investment in and gifting of shares in shell and holding companies operated by corporate finance houses.
This work dovetails closely with Chris’ substantial practice in defending financial advisors. In particular, as of 2017, Chris is instructed as sole counsel acting on behalf of three financial advisors in a claim brought by around 60 claimants, mostly professional or former professional sportsmen, being represented Peters & Peters LLP. The claim, issued in the Chancery Division, concerns the claimants’ investments in various film partnership and investment schemes, including Ebony, Grosvenor Park, Holbein, Neptune, Quartz and Scion Premier.
In 2016, Chris was also successful in securing the discontinuance of a claim, brought by the beneficiary of a deceased client, in respect of inheritance tax planning alleged by HMRC to have fallen foul of the Gift with Reservation of Benefits provisions.
Away from tax, Chris has previously defended an accountant against allegations of negligent preparation of accounts, improper treatment in respect of directors’ loan accounts and intangible assets, and the improper writing off of liabilities.
Chris has also has some experience dealing with claims against auditors, or accountants who are alleged to have undertaken auditing duties, and has acted on behalf of professionals raising defences under the Companies Act 2006, s.1157.
Chris has built a substantial practice acting both for and against construction professionals, including architects, engineers, project managers and quantity surveyors. He regularly appears in the Technology & Construction Court, and is also frequently instructed on adjudications. Chris is a member of TECBAR and the Society of Construction Law.
As of 2017, Chris is instructed as sole counsel in a substantial claim in the TCC, brought on behalf of a sub-contractor in respect of an extension and partial refurbishment of a hospital in Blackburn. The claim concerns liability to the main contractor, a joint venture between two major national contractors, in respect of the faulty design by a sub-subcontractor of the external render system.
Chris is increasingly instructed on behalf of both claimants and defendants in claims against architects and contract administrators, including where they are alleged to have owed duties of care to third parties. Recent or ongoing instructions include:
- An adjudication brought by the owner of large rural auction mart site against an architect, in respect of the negligent drafting of a specification of works, and the subsequent negligent supervision and certification of the works.
- A claim against an architect based on negligent design of an oil tank enclosure, failure to comply with planning requirements, selection of an unsuitable contractor, and failure to properly supervise construction works.
- Advising an employer and his building insurer in a claim against an architect for damages in respect of the failure to specify an appropriate scope of works to remedy water ingress and damp issues.
- Advising an employer in respect of an architect’s failure to issue appropriate notices in respect of liquidated damages.
- A claim against an architect in respect of alleged deficiencies in its approach to the restoration of a building damaged by water, following a fire.
- A contribution claim against an architect in a claim by a contractor, alleging faulty design of part of a hotel.
- A contribution claim by a purchaser of a new-build property against an architect, who had been engaged by the developer-seller to provide a completion certificate.
- A claim by a building contractor against an employer, based on the non-performance by an architect of his duties as contract administrator.
Chris is also frequently instructed in claims against structural and related engineers. Recent or ongoing instructions include:
- Claims in respect of the defective design, construction or approval of property conversions and extensions.
- Claims in respect of the defective design, construction or approval of foundations, particularly where damage has been caused by variations in soil moisture levels.
- Claims by purchasers of properties based on the issuing of Professional Consultant’s Certificates.
- Chris was also involved in Co-operative Group Ltd v Birse Developments Ltd  BLR 359, alongside Fiona Sinclair QC and Richard Liddell, acting on the Part 20 claim by Birse Developments Ltd against its structural engineer and geotechnical design specialist.
This area of professional liability dovetails with Chris’ construction and engineering practice, including acting for and against mechanical, electrical, heating and gas engineers. It also combines with his experience in the related field of professional negligence claims against building surveyors. Further details of his work in these areas are provided under the appropriate links under ‘Areas of Practice’.
Financial Services Professionals
Chris has a developed a substantial practice acting in claims against financial advisors, and is regularly instructed in claims concerning allegedly negligent advice in respect of investments made directly, as well as investments made via personal pension schemes. Chris acts on matters in the High Court, County Court and also before the Financial Ombudsman.
As of 2017, Chris is instructed as sole counsel acting on behalf of three financial advisors in a claim brought by around 60 claimants, mostly professional or former professional sportsmen, being represented Peters & Peters LLP. The claim, issued in the Chancery Division, concerns the claimants’ investments in various film partnership and investment schemes, including Ebony, Grosvenor Park, Holbein, Neptune, Quartz and Scion Premier.
Chris is also presently retained to act in a High Court claim concerning alleged ‘ongoing’ duties and advisory failures in respect of life insurance and critical illness cover, with the trial likely to be listed for late 2017.
Further recent or ongoing instructions, including a number of matters in the High Court, include claims concerning the following issues:
- The suitability of investments, particularly in relation to long-term illiquid investments, unregulated collective investment schemes, and investments with an international flavour, such as foreign property funds and other property investments.
- Alleged failures to explain the risks of investments and other financial products.
- Pensions switching advice, particularly involving block transfers and the tax treatment of allegedly unauthorised payments or investments.
- The suitability of mortgage loans, including a claim concerning the alleged unsuitability of the term of the loan, and a claim in respect of a currency exchange mortgage entered into on the alleged advice of a mortgage broker.
- Tax advice given by financial advisers.
- An alleged failure to advise a client as to potential professional negligence claim against a previous financial advisor
- Limitation issues, particularly in relation to the Limitation Act 1980, s.14A.
Chris has also benefited from several months spend on secondment at a specialist professional indemnity firm in the City, which is ranked in Chambers & Partners as a leading firm for professional negligence work in respect of financial practitioners. During this time, Chris worked directly for the author of the chapter on financial advisers in Simpson: Professional Negligence and Liability, and gained substantial experience of claims against financial services professionals, as well as related claims against product providers. This work involved claims in the civil courts and before the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Whilst on secondment, Chris was also involved in representing an independent financial adviser in claims brought by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in respect of investments in the Keydata products, and he formed part of the team defending advisers in relation to investments in AIG’s Enhanced Variable Rate Fund.
The tax-related elements of this work dovetail closely with Chris’ rapidly expanding practice acting on behalf of accountants and tax advisers, including two claims listed for trial in 2017 (led by Graham Chapman QC) concerning the Eclipse and Scion Sole Trader Schemes, in addition to various gift aid relief schemes. Further details of his work in this area are provided under the appropriate link under ‘Areas of Practice’.
Insurance Brokers & Agents
Having gained substantial experience of claims against insurance brokers during his secondment to a specialist professional indemnity firm in the City, Chris has now developed a considerable practice in his own right in claims against insurance brokers, appearing in both the High Court and County Courts.
As of 2017, Chris is instructed as sole Counsel in a Commercial Court claim likely to be quantified in excess of £1m, brought by the former owners of two well-known hotels on the Blackpool Promenade. The matter concerns the declinature of claims and avoidance of policies in respect of the two hotels, following substantial property damage, on grounds of misrepresentation and material non-disclosure.
Chris also has recent experience of Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (‘MPPI’) policy claims, and has recently been instructed in a claim in respect of the declinature of cover under a number of ‘main home’.
Further previous instructions include:
- A claim against a broker who was alleged to have failed to place a life insurance policy on behalf of a client.
- Further claims where the client has found itself uninsured, including where the insurer has successfully avoided cover on grounds of misrepresentation, material non-disclosure and breach of warranty.
- Claims against insurance brokers alleged to have failed in their duties once policies have incepted, including alleged failures to notify insurers of relevant circumstances, defective notifications, alleged failures to advise insured clients in respect of blanket notifications, and failure to protect the client’s interests once a dispute with insurers had arisen.
- A claim against a broker in respect of an alleged failure to explain critical provisions resulting in the client’s breach of warranty.
- A claim brought by a footballer in respect of alleged non-disclosure in the procurement of ‘career-ending injury’ insurance.
Chris is also familiar with defences of causation and contributory negligence in respect of an insured’s failure to scrutinise proposal forms and insurance policy terms.
This area of work increasingly dovetails with Chris’ substantial practice in claims against financial advisers, particularly in respect of critical illness and life insurance cover.
Chris has built up a thriving practice acting both for and against solicitors, appearing in court and undertaking drafting and advisory work. He is frequently instructed in claims with an underlying subject matter of a litigious, matrimonial, commercial or real property nature, including Sale & Rentback schemes, and the Right to Buy provisions.
Chris is most often instructed on behalf of solicitors, but is also acting with increasing frequency on behalf of lenders, including claims involving breach of trust and breach of undertaking. Chris also acts for private clients, including purchasers and lessees of commercial and residential property.
As of 2017, Chris is retained as sole counsel in a substantial High Court claim brought by a major high street bank in respect of the paying away of mortgage monies. The issues arising include the substance and interpretation of the ‘default terms’ of the trust which arises when a lender pays mortgage monies to a solicitor acting on its behalf, in the event that the CML Handbook and lender’s standard terms do not apply, and the extent of the doctrine of subrogation to a vendor’s lien.
Previous and ongoing instructions in lender claims include:
- A claim against solicitors in respect of the execution of Certificates of Title and Execution, in circumstances where the borrowers had not executed any charge and were not all intending to become the proprietors of the property, and subsequent failures to protect the lender’s position.
- Claims in respect of the failure to register charges or notices with HM Land Registry.
- Claims for breach of contract (including instructions made on the terms of the CML Handbook) and tort, particularly where the alleged breaches result in properties being occupied by individuals claiming to have interests which are binding on the lender.
- A claim against solicitors who failed to inform the lender that the property was and would remain subject to a tenancy.
Previous or ongoing instructions in claims in respect of commercial and residential conveyancing include:
- Led by Ben Hubble QC and Amanda Savage, acting on behalf of solicitors in lead cases in the Right to Buy litigation.
- A claim brought by participants a Sale and Rentback Scheme.
- A claim brought by the freeholder of properties subject to shared ownership planning restrictions, in respect of the alleged negligent drafting of leases.
- A claim brought by a joint purchaser in respect of the alleged failure to advise as to the nature of joint ownership.
- Claims brought by purchasers in respect of overpayment for properties on account of defects in title and other encumbrances, including errors in respect of lease plans, the failure to discover non-compliance with planning conditions, and failures to make appropriate enquiries or further enquiries of the seller.
- Led by Anneliese Day QC, a claim by a developer in respect of the issuing of allegedly defective notices to complete.
- Claims in respect of conveyancing and advice given in relation to residential and commercial landlord and tenant matters, including defending a firm of solicitors (led by David Halpern QC) in a claim concerning alleged negligent advice in respect of a break clause in a commercial lease.
- Claims in respect of auction contracts.
Recent or ongoing instructions in claims in respect of previous litigation include:
- Failures to issue claims within appropriate limitation periods, including advising on amending claim forms out of time.
- Loss of opportunity based on the alleged wrongful compromise of claims, in matrimonial finance proceedings, for spousal maintenance and pension sharing orders.
- Alleged under-settlement of commercial litigation, including defending a firm of solicitors (alongside Jamie Smith QC) in a claim concerning their conduct of commercial IP litigation, alleged to be worth over £10m.
- Delay and failure to carry out instructions in personal injury litigation.
- Failed claims for possession of residential property.
- The taking of unnecessary or inappropriate litigation steps, or the failure to take appropriate steps in preparation for trial.
- Negligent conduct of professional negligence litigation and insolvency claims brought by trustees in bankruptcy.
Chris has also been instructed in claims involving allegations of negligent drafting of wills and contracts, wrongful termination of retainer, and failings in respect of Powers of Attorney and Deputyship.
Chris is also being instructed with increasing regularity in claims against barristers. Recent and ongoing instructions include:
- A contribution claim by a solicitor against a barrister attending a Final Hearing in matrimonial finance proceedings, in the context of the an alleged wrongful compromise of a wife’s claims for spousal maintenance and a pension sharing order.
- Acting on behalf of claimant in a claim against its solicitors and barrister on the basis of overly optimistic assessment of the claimant’s prospects of success in litigation, and the refusal of without prejudice offers.
- Defending a barrister alleged to have given procedural advice to a litigant-in-person against whom he appeared.
- Striking out a claim against a barrister alleged to have assumed responsibility towards various third parties in multi-party litigation.
In all of his work, Chris has benefited from a cumulative 6 months’ first-hand experience of the day-to-day work of litigation solicitors and claims handlers, having undertaken a number of secondments at leading professional indemnity firms in the City.
Surveyors & Valuers
Chris has built a substantial practice acting for and against surveyors and valuers, in claims brought by both lenders and purchasers of commercial and residential property. He combines his experience in this area with his work in the related field of construction claims and claims against constructional professionals, and is comfortable in dealing with those claims concerning alleged defects in buildings, as well as allegations of commercial overvaluation.
Chris was instructed as junior counsel to Justin Fenwick QC and Graham Chapman QC, to act on behalf of CBRE in the case of Gemini (Eclipse 2006-3) Plc v CBRE Limited and Warwick Street (KS) LLP, a securitised lender claim seeking damages in excess of £230m. The claim, which concerned a property portfolio valued by the defendants at more than £1bn, was named in The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2016.
Further, Chris has recently been instructed alongside Jamie Smith QC in a claim for damages of over £6,000,000, brought by a major lending institution against surveyors alleged to have overvalued industrial property let to commercial tenants. The claim, which settled in late 2016, concerned inter alia valuation methodology, the effect of periodic ‘refinancing’ or redemption of lending by the same lender, and the ‘shelf life’ of valuation reports.
As sole counsel, Chris has acted for and against surveyors and valuers in the following:
- Lender claims against valuers in respect of the overvaluation of properties.
- Lender claims against businesses providing sub-contracted valuation services.
- Claims by lenders to whom mortgages or certificates have been assigned.
- Claims against valuers by buy-to-let purchasers.
- Claims against building surveyors who are alleged either to have failed to identify structural defects in property, particularly in relation to damp, subsidence, or heave.
Chris’ experience in this field means he is familiar with many of the arguments arising in such claims. In securitised lender claims, Chris has advised on an extensive range of issues, including statutory and equitable assignment, joinder of the original lender, duties of care, and various issues in respect of causation and loss following the Court’s decision in Titan Europe 2006-3 Plc v Colliers International UK Plc.
More generally, Chris has substantial experience advising on issues such as:
- Various arguments concerning the applicability of the bracket, including ‘portfolio’; arguments, and the applicability of the concept to structural and Homebuyer reports
- The treatment of ‘advance interest repayments’ and similar retentions;
- The recoverability of abnormally high costs of funding;
- The recoverability of hedging costs and break fees;
- Allegations of faulty irresponsible lending practices; and
- Limitation, including arguments under s.14A, and the valuation of borrowers’ covenants.
Claims against surveyors frequently also involve contribution claims against solicitors, and vice versa, Chris is regularly involved in both bringing and defending such actions.
Chris is regularly instructed to defend property agents in claims brought by landlords, tenants and purchasers of property. His work in this area focuses on claims brought against estate agents in their capacity as property managers, and he is familiar with the RICS standards and guidance notes applicable to this field of work.
Chris has also co-ordinated numerous training seminars provided by 4 New Square on this area of law, combining his approach to professional negligence work with his knowledge of substantive landlord and tenant law.
In 2016, Chris was instructed to defend a substantial multi-party claim, brought by the owner of two properties on a development in the North West, against a managing agent appointed by the management company. The claim concerned the alleged mismanagement of insurance monies, said to have been misappropriated by fraud.
Further previous instructions include claims based on the following:
- Alleged negligent drafting of tenancy agreements.
- Alleged negligent vetting of tenants.
- Alleged overcharging of fees in respect of renewed tenancies.
- Unsuccessful attempts by estate agents to recover possession of residential properties.
- Failure to comply with the rules concerning tenancy deposits, and the landlord’s consequent inability to serve s.21 notices under the Housing Act 1988.
- Claims for indemnities in respect of property management, where the estate agent is alleged to have committed breaches of a tenancy agreement on the landlord’s behalf.
- Claims for damages and injunctions wrongly brought by tenants and leaseholders in respect of breaches of the landlord’s covenants, including in respect of alleged wrongful eviction.
In respect of claims brought by purchasers against vendors’ agents, Chris has previously been instructed in a claim brought by a purchaser of a property on the basis of negligent misstatement, in respect of which he successfully obtained a strike-out without a hearing.