The search for consistency in the law of professional negligence: Manchester Building Society v Grant Thornton and Khan v Meadows in the Supreme Court
On 18 June 2021, the same seven-judge constitution of the Supreme Court…
Paul Mitchell has particular expertise in claims involving the liability of professionals, especially solicitors and barristers, accountants, tax advisers, fund managers and surveyors; disputes regarding professional indemnity insurance; claims arising from the economic torts, notably malicious prosecution of earlier claims and conspiracy; and claims arising from and in connection with the conduct or effect generally of earlier litigation (e.g., wasted costs applications, loss of chance claims). He acts in a broad variety of general commercial claims, frequently where some problem has arisen, either from the facts of the case or the way it is being handled, that needs a creative solution to break a deadlock. Paul is also regularly instructed to deal with costs issues arising out of high value Commercial disputes.
Paul is particularly sought out for cases requiring an imaginative leap of analysis. He is a good team player and leader whose calm approach under pressure is often commented upon. His advocacy is seen as good humoured, courageous and very effective. His strong academic background and intellectual curiosity make him particularly effective in the testing of expert evidence ranging from company and property valuations to foreign law.
His clients say that he “often pulls things out of the hat” “you can ring him up and he will give you really good advice on very difficult points. He is fantastic and really commercial”. “I will take him work on things that are likely to go to trial” “He is extremely bright, clear, concise, commercially astute and to top it all – a lovely guy to deal with”. “He is very strong on tactics and strategy and a great team player.”
“An outstanding advocate who is very intelligent and very easy to get on with. He’s very user-friendly, and has a good balance between tenacity and charm.” Chambers UK 2022
“My chosen counsel because of the depth of his experience – he’s a polymath, has excellent investigation skills and has an interest in legal history, which helped in this case.” “Incredibly easy to deal with, exceptionally bright and knowledgeable and a very effective negotiator.” Chambers UK 2021
“Utterly charming with the mind of an arch-strategist. Exceptionally good at dealing with a very complicated set of facts and issues and magically making the case look simple and straightforward.” Legal 500 2021
“Very personable, gets to the nub of the issue quickly and doesn’t faff around the edges. He’s incredibly calm and cool as an advocate.” “Very bright and becomes part of the team.” Chambers UK 2019
“A brilliant advocate. Very tenacious but clear thinking. He set out sensibly and clearly a technically secure, well-thought-out, compelling piece of advocacy. He gives very robust advice and is prepared to think out of the box.” Chambers UK 2018
“A very good advocate, who is able to hammer home the strong points of case.” Legal 500 2017
“Charming and incisive, with a real knack for thinking on his feet.” “Phenomenally bright and the advice that he provides is very commercial.” Chambers UK 2017
“He unfailingly gets the answer right and is incredibly easy to get on with.” Legal 500 2016
“He makes light work of hard cases and is excellent on his feet. He is a delight to work with and is very good at coming up with pragmatic solutions.” “His main strengths are his attention to detail, legal knowledge and interpersonal skills.” Chambers UK 2016
“He delivers clear advice, is commercially aware, and has strong personal and diplomatic skills.” Legal 500 2015
“An outstanding advocate who is very intelligent and very easy to get on with. He’s very user-friendly, and has a good balance between tenacity and charm.” – Chambers & Partners, 2022
“My chosen counsel because of the depth of his experience – he’s a polymath, has excellent investigation skills and has an interest in legal history, which helped in this case.” “Incredibly easy to deal with, exceptionally bright and knowledgeable and a very effective negotiator.” – Chambers & Partners, 2021
“Utterly charming with the mind of an arch-strategist. Exceptionally good at dealing with a very complicated set of facts and issues and magically making the case look simple and straightforward.” – Legal 500, 2021
“He is very thorough and very much on top of his cases. He’s good at identifying opponents’ weaknesses and key points in the case.” “He’s a great advocate who has extremely good judgement. He has a really great instinct for the good and bad points and for how things will turn out.” – Chambers & Partners, 2020
“Has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law.” – Legal 500, 2020
“Very personable, gets to the nub of the issue quickly and doesn’t faff around the edges. He’s incredibly calm and cool as an advocate.” “Very bright and becomes part of the team.” – Chambers & Partners, 2019
Paul’s professional liability work involves allegations made against solicitors, barristers, accountants (especially tax advisers), fund managers and financial advisers (giving bespoke advice and recommending tax mitigation schemes). He is particularly experienced in questions of scope of duty, causation, the recoverability of losses claimed, and mitigation. In addition to his trial experience, Paul is frequently actively involved in assisting at mediations leading to settlement. He is instructed by both claimants and defendants, and is often asked by both sides to provide a written opinion on the merits to assist with settlement negotiations. He is on the PNBA’s approved list of adjudicators authorised to adjudicate professional liability disputes pursuant to the current Pre-Action Protocol on Professional Negligence claims.
Featured Professional Negligence cases
Paul has very wide experience of claims against solicitors and barristers (particularly QCs) arising from their conduct of both non-contentious and contentious business. In the field of non-contentious business, he has advised and represented claimants and defendants in many claims arising from:
As to claims arising from the conduct of contentious business, Paul has advised and represented claimants and defendants in claims arising from:
Notable reported cases involving lawyers include:
Paul acts for or against accountants in a wide variety of claims, from failure to detect fraud on audit to negligent advice regarding corporate structure and restructuring, pensions, taxation (personal and corporate), or investment (including investments as part of tax-mitigation).
He acts in claims arising in connection with complex financial schemes designed, promoted or recommended by financial advisers, e.g. split cap investments, the Stax investment scheme, the Innovator investment scheme, film finance schemes, enterprise zones, multi-currency mortgages, forex trading, futures trading, derivatives trading.
During the post financial crisis wave of lender claims between 2008 and 2017, Paul acted in dozens of claims against surveyors, instructed by claimant banks, defendant surveyors, solicitors seeking contribution from surveyors and surveyors defending contribution claims brought by solicitors. He has also acted in several claims involving the valuation of unusual properties, such as fish farms, business parks, amusement arcades, caravan sites, nursing homes, hotels and student accommodation, as well as more standard valuations of commercial property such as leases in shopping centres, office blocks, new build apartments and of course residential property. His extensive experience of lender claims has covered all aspects of lender contributory fault as well as defences such as limitation, scope of duty, date of accrual of loss, mitigation etc. He has also acted in more unusual claims against surveyors alleging extensive duties of care: see in particular Harrison v Technical Sign Co Ltd & Ors  EWCA Civ 1569; and claims involving alleged fraud by surveyors.
Paul acts in claims where IPs or LPA receivers are alleged to have failed to raise the true value of assets following bankruptcy or insolvency. He also has substantial experience of coverage disputes between IPs and their insurers, including in cases where dishonesty is alleged against the insured.
He acts in claims against insurance brokers by clients alleging that the broker failed properly to ascertain the full nature of the risk to be insured; or failed adequately to explain to the client the limitations on coverage.
Paul acts in connection with disputes regarding the scope of coverage of policies of professional indemnity insurance, and in particular coverage questions under the Minimum Terms and Conditions for solicitors’ PII. He has substantial experience of arbitrations of such coverage disputes, with particular expertise in questions involving dishonesty, reimbursement, and the application of the Successor Practice rules contained in the MTC.
Paul acts in a wide variety of commercial disputes, both in England and offshore. He has particular experience of freezing injunctions, shareholder disputes, company valuation disputes, professional negligence claims (in particular against lawyers and tax advisers) and fraud (alleged Ponzi schemes, SDLT avoidance schemes, money laundering and sanctions avoidance schemes). He speaks Russian, Italian, French and Farsi has a particular interest in cases with connections to countries where those languages are spoken.
Malicious Prosecution of Civil Proceedings/ Abuse of Process
Paul is the leading practitioner in England & Wales for these new claims, having appeared in Willers v Joyce, the long-running litigation that gave extended the tort of malicious prosecution to civil claims; advising the winning party in the equivalent case in the Singaporean Supreme Court, Lee Tat Development Pte Ltd v MCSTP No 381  SGCA 50; representing the wife in CXZ v ZXC, the first case arising from bitterly contested Child Arrangement Order proceedings; acting for the claimant in Mosley v Associated News Limited, the case arising from The Daily Mail’s submitting a “dossier” about Max Mosley to the Crown Prosecution Service; and acting for the claimant in the ongoing Monks v East Northamptonshire Council, the case arising from the travails of Private Eye’s “Lowick One”.
Complex remedy claims
Paul is often instructed in claims where the analysis of causation and quantification of loss are very difficult. High profile cases in 2020 were Sogexia Sarl v R Raphael & Sons Plc, where an application for a quia timet injunction against a bank entering Members’ Voluntary Liquidation is current under appeal to the Court of Appeal; YJB v M&A Pharmachem, where Paul and Tom Shepherd’s client was found to have caused no loss to the claimant despite being found at an earlier trial on liability to have been in breach of a covenant against competition; and Involegal v BLM, where Paul, leading Christopher Boardman QC, successfully resisted summary judgment on a cause of action assigned by an insolvent company. Paul is currently instructed by one of the principal defendants in the sprawling and multi-jurisdictional SKAT litigation, a case concerning the alleged liability of agents for representations made by their principals when seeking to claim withholding tax relief on share dividends.
Fine art and equestrian litigation
Paul often acts in cases involving the valuation or movement of these unusual precious assets. In recent years, he has acted in a claim under ecclesiastical law concerning the sale of an Ittenbach by a church in Cheltenham (In Re Emanuel Church, Leckhampton before a consistory court of the Diocese of Gloucester); for a dealer suing a German auction house for fraudulent misrepresentation; for an Italian collector, beneficial owner of an offshore company that in turn owned various important pieces of modern art, in obtaining an injunction on confidential terms; for a dealer regarding a professional negligence claim against an expert in an Old Master; for a consortium of owners obtaining an injunction restraining transport of a stallion from Heathrow to participate in the Southern Hemisphere Breeding Season; and for the owner of a showjumper which was crippled by a farrier; for the owner of a dressage horse accidentally killed while at a stud farm for embryo harvesting.
Featured Commercial cases
Paul is frequently instructed as an advocate in arbitration proceedings, and is an accredited mediator trained at the Regent’s School of Psychotherapy and Counselling under the late Dr Freddie Strasser. He is often invited by clients to attend mediations as he is an active and constructive contributor to obtaining satisfactory resolution of the dispute at hand. He has chaired numerous committees over the course of his career, including almost every year one of Lincoln’s Inn’s major scholarship award panels, and has a low-friction, respectful but firm style of leading panels to well-reasoned, soundly-evidenced decisions supported by all members of the committee or panel.
Paul’s experience of professional negligence claims is a critical component of his practice in regulatory and disciplinary work, whether acting for the complainant before the Taxation Disciplinary Board (the disciplinary body for the Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Association of Taxation Technicians) or defending before the ICAEW Disciplinary Tribunal or the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal. He is often asked to advise solicitors and accountants regarding complaints and disciplinary investigations, and has been instructed on several occasions by the Taxation Disciplinary Board to make amendments to the regulations governing its disciplinary procedure.
Paul was junior counsel in the £100 million Convergence v Chantrey Vellacott claim ( EWHC 1774 (Ch);  EWHC 360 (Ch); various other decisions without neutral citation numbers) in which a telecoms company alleged that its business in Greece had been destroyed by the negligence of its advisers; the case mainly revolved around detailed expert analysis of the relevant technology and its associated licensing regime. Since then his work in this field has mainly concerned cases involving cyber-fraud, in particular where solicitors’ client accounts have been targeted by fraudsters via hacked email accounts and/ or fake emails purporting to come from clients or counterparties.
Since 2017, Paul has been on the board of Ampbar Limited, a lawtech company which provides a platform linking solicitors, barristers and insurers in certain types of claim.
Paul’s extensive experience in claims arising from earlier litigation, particularly claims against lawyers, has given him particular insight into the handling of disputes connected with legal costs. In recent years, besides being involved in many cases where a principal head of damages has been in respect of costs incurred in earlier proceedings (see in particular Herrmann v Withers  PNLR 15, the leading case on how costs awarded as damages should be assessed, indemnity or standard basis; and Willers v Joyce  AC 843, the leading case on the recovery of “extra” costs, i.e., the difference between what a client received on detailed assessment and the actual sum paid to his or her lawyers), Paul has also been instructed:
Paul Mitchell KC, instructed by Laytons, has completed another successful claim for…
On 18 June 2021, the same seven-judge constitution of the Supreme Court…
A critical part of any unfair prejudice petition is the valuation of…
4 New Square
London, WC2A 3RJ
BARRISTERS REGULATED BY
THE BAR STANDARDS BOARD
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-advertisement||1 year||Set by the GDPR Cookie Consent plugin, this cookie is used to record the user consent for the cookies in the "Advertisement" category .|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|
|CookieLawInfoConsent||1 year||Records the default button state of the corresponding category & the status of CCPA. It works only in coordination with the primary cookie.|
|wp_law_pdfbuilder_bespoke||1 Year||Used for the portfolio builder|
|wp_law_pdfbuilder_list||1 Year||Used for the portfolio builder|
|_ga||2 years||The _ga cookie, installed by Google Analytics, calculates visitor, session and campaign data and also keeps track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookie stores information anonymously and assigns a randomly generated number to recognize unique visitors.|
|_ga_DJZVZPQ3PF||2 years||This cookie is installed by Google Analytics.|
|_gat_gtag_UA_196640177_1||1 minute||Set by Google to distinguish users.|
|_gid||1 day||Installed by Google Analytics, _gid cookie stores information on how visitors use a website, while also creating an analytics report of the website's performance. Some of the data that are collected include the number of visitors, their source, and the pages they visit anonymously.|