I'm interested in…

  • Strategy & Procedure
  • Catastrophic Injury
  • Professional Indemnity
  • Motor
  • Fraud
  • Disease
  • Liability
  • Commercial Insurance
  • Costs
  • Local Authority
  • Scotland

Causation: a key element to any professional negligence claim

Altus Group (UK) Ltd v Baker Tilly Tax and Advisory Services LLP [2015] EWHC12

Facts

The Defendant Accountants failed to give appropriate advice to the Claimant on certain changes introduced by the Corporation Tax Act 2009.  The Claimant alleged that had it been appropriately advised, it would have implemented a re-structure which would have stood a substantial chance of successfully mitigating its tax liabilities. The Claimant claimed damages for loss of that chance.

Decision

The Court decided that the Defendant had breached its duty of care to the Claimant.  In order for the claim to succeed however, the Claimant had to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that it would have implemented the re-structure had the breach not occurred. Damages would then be assessed on the basis of the value of the chance that the re-structure would have resulted in a tax saving for the Claimant (including consideration as to whether or not HMRC would have mounted a successful challenge).

Comment

The Claimant’s claim ultimately failed because the Claimant failed to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that it would have implemented the re-structure had the breach not occurred.

This case is a good reminder that even where a professional has failed to advise its client appropriately, that client may not be able to bring a successful professional negligence claim against the professional. In such cases, the client must always prove that the professional’s failure has, on the balance of probabilities, caused it loss.

Contact

For further information please contact Alexandra Cartwright, Senior Solicitor
on +44 (0)117 301 7865.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Top