Case Study on Divorce Settlement Agreement Negligence: £0.5m Pension Sharing Financial Loss

In Joanne Lewis v Cunningtons Solicitors, the High Court held that the law firm which had failed to give proper advice to their client and caused her to believe via their retainer that she could not ask for any advice at all which resulted in her losing out on a significant amount of money in her divorce settlement. As a result, the High Court ordered Cunningtons, her former solicitors to pay her £400,000 in compensation in lieu of a pension sharing order.

Have you suffered financial loss at the hands of a professional who has failed to act within professional standards? If you think you have a case, get in touch with our team of professional negligence lawyers. We can assist you to understand the merits of your claim and advise you on the best way to obtain fair compensation.

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Solicitor’s Professional Negligence in Lewis v Cunningtons Solicitors

The High Court ruled that Cunningtons, a law firm based in Essex, was negligent in failing to advise their client on her financial settlement during her divorce proceedings. It should be noted that after the client had negotiated her own settlement, Cunningtons had restricted the scope of its retainer.  However, the judge found that they had enough information to advise her to seek a pension-sharing order, and awarded Lewis £400,000, rejecting the firm’s argument that it had offered ‘low-cost’ or ‘budget’ representation.

Lewis came out of the divorce agreement with only £30,000 when, with a pension-sharing order, she could have received around £500,000. The court found that Cunningtons had enough information, particularly that the husband’s pension was the main asset of the divorce, to have advised her to seek a pension-sharing order. If her solicitors had provided her with proper advice she would clearly have been much better off.

Lewis later got a legal second opinion and after sending a letter before claim subsequently filed a negligence claim against Cunningtons, arguing that she should have been advised that a court would have made a 50% pension sharing order. The judge found that Lewis was unsophisticated and vulnerable as a client, which the solicitors should have known.

Duty of Care and Loss

In the United Kingdom, solicitors are under a duty of care to provide their clients with a highest standard of care and professionalism when handling legal matters to protect their client’s best interests. Despite this there may be instances where a solicitor may fail to meet this standard which could result in their client suffering from loss or harm. This breach of duty can happen in several ways, such as failing to advise a client properly, missing a deadline or a court hearing, giving incorrect or insufficient advice, or making errors in legal documents.


Can I bring proceedings against my former Solicitors?

You should seek legal advice to bring a claim for professional negligence against your previous solicitor. The new solicitor will assess the merits of the case and advise the client on the likelihood of success. If you believe that your solicitor has been negligent, you can make a claim for compensation. To do so, you must show that the solicitor breached their duty of care, and this breach caused you to suffer harm or financial loss. The client must also demonstrate that the harm suffered was a direct result of the solicitor’s negligence. It is essential to seek legal advice promptly if you believe that your solicitor has been negligent to protect your interests and seek appropriate remedies.

Download the Judgement Here

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We specialise in professional negligence claims and have years of experience in handling and resolving negligence claims. Our lawyers have market-leading experience of providing bespoke legal advice and bringing complex claims to settlement.  As a leading law firm regularly featured in the news and media and with a track record of success, you can be assured your negligence claim will proceed with precision and care.

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Clients hire us because of our extensive experience in litigation disputes – when necessary, we know when to go to court and we know how to litigate.

Book an Initial Consultation with our Professional Negligence Lawyers

If you have a claim against a professional and want expert legal advice, get in touch so we can assess the legal merit of your case. We can often take on such claims on a no win no fee basis (such as a CFA or DBA) once we have discussed the claim with you and then assessed and advised you on the merits of the proposed professional negligence action.

Our expert legal team of leading Professional Negligence Solicitors & Barristers can provide urgent help, advice or representation to you. Just call our Professional Negligence Lawyers on 02071830529 or email us now.

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