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The Supreme Court will shortly be considering a long-running dispute about the rights of a client to sue his former solicitors. The court will hear the appeal of defunct claimant firm Raleys Solicitors against the ruling of the Court of Appeal in 2017.

The dispute is one of many professional negligence claims against solicitors who handled industrial injury cases, with the outcome helping to establish the required burden of proof on claimants as to their potential losses.

Law firm Raleys, which is now in administration, had been instructed by former miner in 1996 after he developed a condition known as Vibration White Finger. The claim was pursued against the Department for Transport and Industry, which had assumed the liabilities of the miner’s former employers.

The claim was settled three years later without reference to the cost of day-to-day assistance which the miner would require. He later issued a claim against Raleys seeking damages and alleging negligence in failing to advise him of the possibility of pursuing a services claim.

At trial, Raleys admitted negligence but argued this had not caused the Claimant any loss. The judge agreed he had not been in a position to pursue a successful services claim honestly and dismissed the claim against the firm.

The Court of Appeal ruled the judge was wrong in his analysis of whether Raleys caused their Client any loss and made various errors in considering the evidence.

The Supreme Court will consider whether a claimant must prove, where a firm negligently fails to advise them of a potential claim, that their former claim would have been honest if it had been made. The court will also consider in which circumstances an appellate court should interfere with a trial judge’s findings of fact.

Expect the outcome to have far reaching effects for these type of claims so watch that space.