Hughes-Holland v BPE: SAAMCO revisited by the Supreme Court

17 December 2019

In this podcast David Halpern KC (who appeared for Mr Hughes-Holland) and Anthony Jones (who was part of BPE’s legal team) consider the effect of the Supreme Court decision in BPE v. Hughes-Holland and consider how it has been applied subsequently.  The case raises issues which arise in almost every professional negligence claim.

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In South Australia Asset Management Corporation v. York Montague (“SAAMCO”) the House of Lords held that a lender suing a valuer for negligence could only recover loss falling with the scope of the duty.  Lord Hoffmann’s speech had wide-ranging implications for the whole law of professional negligence.  This included the so-called SAAMCO cap, which operates as a restriction on the level of damages and the distinction between “Information” and “advice”.

Twenty years later, the Supreme Court revisited SAAMCO in Hughes-Holland v. BPE Solicitors [2018] AC 599.  This decision now provides the latest authoritative guidance in this area of the law.  David Halpern KC, who appeared for Mr Hughes-Holland, and Anthony Jones, who was part of BPE’s legal team, examine the decision and its implications.

In particular, they focus on:

  •  What is the relevant counterfactual which the court is required to consider in order to create the SAAMCO cap?  Is the court required to decide what would or might have happened (a) if the professional had acted competently or (b) if the professional’s conduct had been competent?  Where is the burden of proof?
  • The dichotomy between a professional who provides “information” and one who provides “advice”.
  • Subsequent case-law.

Despite (or perhaps as a result of) the Supreme Court’s decision, this area of the law continues to throw up challenges for claimants and defendants.

Related areas


David Halpern KC

Call: 1978 Silk: 2006

Anthony Jones

Call: 2011



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