Lord Justice Jackson’s judgment in the matter of Thomas v. Hugh James Ford Simey Solicitors [2017] EWCA Civ 1303 examines a solicitor’s duty to advise their clients of claims and will be of interest to all practitioners. The Defendants had represented the Claimant in a personal injury claim – several heads of special damage were not pursued after the Claimant informed the Defendants that he did not have the evidence to support such claims and “was not too bothered at all” about pursuing them. 

The Claimant subsequently sued his former solicitors for professional negligence, claiming that the heads of special damages unclaimed totalled over £16,000.00 and he would have pursued these had he been properly advised as to their value. He argued that his former solicitors should have probed the potential special damages claims in more detail in the hope of changing his mind. 

The claim was dismissed by the judge at first instance (Mr Recorder Cameron) and the Claimant appealed. 

Jackson LJ (with whom Henderson LJ agreed) agreed with Mr Recorder Cameron that it was not the role of a solicitor to “tempt” their client in to making claims, and dismissed the appeal. Jackson LJ noted that the question was whether the solicitors had discharged their duties, with reference to the retainer, to advise and pursue such claims as were appropriate – they had done so and were not required to pursue the matter once the Claimant had “shut down” such lines of enquiry. It was also emphasised that the Court must adopt a “realistic standard” when assessing the performance of solicitors under a “high volume, low cost” scheme.