Sutton Park National Nature Reserve. Britain’s largest urban park.

Finlan and another v Eyton Morris Winfield (a firm) and another [2007] EWHC 914 (Ch)

Finlan and another v Eyton Morris Winfield (a firm) and another [2007] EWHC 914 (Ch)

In this £25 million action for professional negligence, the claimant, Mr Finlan, instructed Bell Lax. Bell Lax and two barristers undertook the work on a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement. Mr Finlan also had the benefit of after the event insurance.

Mr Finlan alleged that Queenswood (a company of which Mr Finlan was a director) had received negligent advice concerning the purchase of shares from the defendants, who were a firm of solicitors and a firm of accountants.

When Queenswood went into liquidation, it agreed to assign its cause of action against the defendants to Mr Finlan. The deed of assignment effecting this was completed three hours after Mr Finlan issued the claim form against both defendants.

The defendants challenged Mr Finlan’s right to pursue the claim, saying it was invalidated on the basis that the assignment had not occurred until after the claim form was issued, that in law Mr Finlan did not have a cause of action against the defendants at the time the claim form was issued.

In reply, Mr Finlan’s QC argued that there had been an equitable assignment of the cause of action upon which Mr Finlan could rely, or in any event, he should be given leave to amend his particulars of claim in order to rely on the deed of assignment.

Although the court found no evidence of an equitable assignment, the judge held that given that the defendants would suffer no prejudice, it was appropriate for the court to exercise its discretion in favour of allowing the amendment; the deed of assignment was a fact already in issue on Mr Finlan’s claim as part of the defendants’ defence.