A couple have only been awarded nominal damages for their ‘loss of chance’ to make a claim against their former solicitor – despite the firm admitting negligence.

Mr and Mrs Waraich alleged that their lawyers, Ansari Solicitors, had failed to advise them on a negligence claim against Kahns, their former solicitors, within the six-year limitation period.  They said that Kahns had been negligent in handling Mr Waraich’s immigration application.

The Wariachs claimed £820,000 from Ansari Solicitors, alleging that Mr Waraich’s failed immigration application had led to him losing earnings and being unable to secure a mortgage or other loans.

Ansari admitted that it was negligent in failing to advise the couple to make a claim against Khans.  However, they said that the couple had not suffered a loss as a result, because their claim was doomed to failure.

In assessing the Waraichs’ claim, the judge had to decide what they would have done had they been properly advised and whether their ‘loss of chance’ to claim damages was real.  This followed the ruling in Perry v Raleys (see Brunel News, April 2019).

The judge found that Mr Waraich’s evidence was deeply unsatisfactory, with many blatant contradictions.  He concluded that had any immigration officer examined Mr Waraich’s immigration application, he would have doubted whether he was telling the truth.

This led the judge to conclude that Mr Waraich could not show that he had suffered a loss of earnings due to his immigration status.  There was also no evidence that this had prevented the couple from raising a mortgage or other loans.

The judge decided that the only part of the Waraichs’ claim against Khans that could have succeeded was for the modest expenditure for completing the wrong type of immigration form.

He ruled that Ansari’s negligence had only led to the Waraichs losing the chance to pursue a claim of very modest value and, as a result, only awarded nominal damages against the firm.

This case rightly underlines again that a claimant has to prove that they have suffered a loss as a result of a professional’s negligence. The mere fact that an error has occurred does not automatically give rise to a financial liability,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions.

Reports about the case have been published by the Law Society Gazette, DWF and Legal Futures.

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