A retired coal miner who claimed he lost the chance of securing additional compensation due to his solicitor’s negligence has had his case denied by the Supreme Court.

Mr Perry was one of many coal miners who had developed Vibration White Finger, a debilitating hand condition, when working for the National Coal Board.  A compensation scheme had been set up by the Department of Trade and Industry to settle the multiple claims from miners without  the need for formal litigation.

Mr Perry approached Raleys, one of the law firms appointed to help miners with their claims. They arranged the normal tariff-based compensation but failed to tell Mr Perry about the availability of an additional ‘Services Award’.

These extra awards were paid to miners who could not complete six household tasks without assistance, including washing a car, DIY and decorating.

Mr Perry claimed that his solicitor had been negligent and that as a result he had lost the chance to seek additional compensation.  In the High Court, the judge threw out his claim.  He ruled that based on the evidence presented Mr Perry did not need assistance with the six tasks and could not honestly have brought a claim for a Services Award.

Mr Perry successfully appealed, winning damages for his ‘loss of chance’ claim.  The Court of Appeal ruled that Raleys was liable for failing to advise Mr Perry that he qualified for a Services Award.

Now the Supreme Court has overturned the Appeal judges’ ruling, backing the trial judge’s decision.  It concluded that Mr Perry could not prove that he would have made a Services Award claim at the time, even if he had been properly advised by Raleys.

This decision will come as a huge relief to solicitors and their insurers who could have faced a flood of similar claims,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions.“It confirms a standard of proof is required of people claiming loss of chance, including under-settlement of compensation due to their solicitor’s actions.”

Reports have been published by Barlow Robbins, Hailsham Chambers, Law Society Gazette and DWF.

Brunel Professions is a leading provider of PII insurance broking to the legal profession. To find out more call Mark Sommariva on 0203 475 3275.