‘Approachable and a pleasure to work with; he provides clear, thorough advice and is great in conference with clients.’– Legal 500, 2016: Professional Liability
Stephen is recommended as a leading junior in professional negligence in the Legal 500.
Stephen has equal experience of acting for defendants and for claimants. Tactical thinking is crucial and Stephen is acutely aware of the commercial imperatives of defendants and their insurers, and of the pressures facing claimants.
A large part of his caseload at present involves claims by lenders against solicitors and valuers, with associated insurance disputes, and Stephen presents talks and seminars in this field.
As well as the more mainstream categories of professional, Stephen has been involved in defending a number of more unusual claims such as against LPA receivers, professional trustees, mortgage packagers and swimming pond installers.
Stephen has been involved in all stages of litigation, acting both for claimants and for solicitor and barrister defendants. Stephen is often involved at the early stages of a claim, drafting correspondence under the professional negligence pre-action protocol and advising on strategy and the merits of a claim. He has considerable experience in successfully striking out claims and applying for summary judgment.
Types of case commonly dealt with include: lost litigation and negligent conduct of litigation; negligent conveyancing; defective drafting of wills and trust deeds; incorrect administration of estates; failure to advise on liability under various documentation such as loan agreements, guarantees, mortgages or leases. Recently Stephen has been instructed in large claims relating to legal expenses insurance.
In lost litigation claims Stephen benefits from considerable first-hand experience of underlying commercial litigation, in particular in personal injury, employment and Inheritance Act claims. Through property-related professional liability claims, he has often been involved in related proceedings, such as claims for rectification, applications to the Land Registry Adjudicator, claims for specific performance and claims against vendors for misrepresentation.
Stephen has considerable experience of successfully defending wasted costs applications against solicitors, often where the solicitors have been hampered by legal professional privilege.
Stephen has very substantial experience of mortgage-related work and is frequently involved in claims alleging fraud or breach of trust and fiduciary duties. Recent work in this field includes:
- Pulvers v Chan  PNLR 9: acting for solicitors claiming against parties involved in split title mortgage frauds including mortgage brokers, a conveyancer and mortgage borrowers; the claims were successful brought at trial and in some cases by summary judgment applications;
- the Dunlop Haywards litigation: Stephen acted for a firm of solicitors caught up in a lender’s claim following a fraudulent over valuation of commercial property; this involved defending a claim by the lender, and bringing proceedings against another parties, alleging dishonesty and breach of undertaking;
- acting for solicitors in litigation arising from Morris Properties transactions in Leeds;
- numerous claims for and against solicitors involving allegations of failing to disclose incentives, and misapplication of trust monies;
- defending high value claims by purchasers of securitised loan books;
- successfully arguing a preliminary issue in relation to a breach of trust claim and the effect of SAAMCo in a claim against a solicitor (Brokerhouse v OJS  PNLR 23)
- A number of claims where solicitors who drafted testamentary documents have been caught up in disputed probate disputes (such as in Greaves v Stolkin  WTLR 1793)
Surveyors & Valuers
Stephen has experience of a number of claims against surveyors and valuers and his considerable experience in acting for lenders in mortgage-related work proves useful in claims against surveyors said to have provided negligent mortgage valuations. He has been involved in several successful applications for summary judgment. Recent work in claims against surveyors/valuers includes:
- acting for lenders in numerous claims against valuers alleging negligence; concerning properties ranging from residential properties to commercial properties and development sites;
- acting for solicitors facing claims by lenders and seeking contribution from valuers;
- bringing claims against surveyors who negotiated leases for sites used by mobile telephone service providers;
- the Dunlop Haywards litigation: Stephen acted for a firm of solicitors caught up in a lender’s claim following a fraudulent over-valuation of commercial property.
Accountants, Auditors & Actuaries
Stephen has been involved in numerous claims against accountants. Recent examples include:
- claims arising out of film finance partnerships;
- negligent advice about EIS schemes;
- failure properly to incorporate and run businesses in different jurisdictions;
- failure to prepare tax returns correctly or on time;
- incorrect treatment of matters such as disposal of land, directors’ loans;
- claims involving businesses such as estate agency firms, plant nurseries and caravan park
Insurance Brokers & Agents
Stephen spent his first 18 months in practice involved in a substantial piece of film finance litigation involving claims by insurers against the insurance brokers. Since then he has acted in a number of claims for and against insurance brokers, often involving allegations that a broker has failed to draw policy provisions to the attention of the insured or failed to notify a claim to insurers. Examples of cases in which Stephen has recently acted:
- cases involving critical illness policies where there has been non-disclosure of existing conditions or previous treatment;
- a claim relating to the non-appearance of an opera singer;
- claims involving brokers of motor insurance policies;
- a claim against brokers for failure to notify public and professional liability insurers of claims following the installation of a municipal water feature;
- claims following fires at warehouses and factories.
Financial Services Professionals
Stephen has acted in a number of claims arising out of investment advice and mis-selling of financial products. Examples include:
- A claim by a family trust alleging mis-management of its investment portfolio
- A claim against pension advisers in relation to advice to withdraw from a company pension scheme
- A claim relating to management of a pension scheme
- Claims involving allegations of mis-selling of mortgage and insurance related products
- A claim relating to the investment of a large personal injury claim settlement