West Midlands firm sued for negligence for failing to advise on doubling ground rent clause

Solicitors firm, FBC Manby Bowdler, faces scrutiny after a recent case of a former leaseholder pursuing a professional negligence claim against the conveyancing firm, FBC Manby Bowdler for failing to notify their client of the incremental increase in ground rent on their leasehold property. If your conveyancer or solicitor has failed to adequately advise you on a property purchase, our professional negligence team can advise you on your matter and any potential complaint or legal claim.

Former leaseholder, Carole Patterson was fully unaware of the incremental ground rent clause when she brought the one-bedroom property in East Dulwich back in 2011 for £170,000 as an investment. After witnessing her bill rise from £525 in 2016 to £1,050 this year, she argues the spiralling ground rent would render her flat unsellable based on the fact that her ground rent doubles every five years, stipulating her to pay £16,800 in 2041 and eventually over £1m in 50 years’ time to keep her home.

Ms Patterson deems her flat effectively worthless as it accompanies financial burdens around the corner after stating that ‘there is no way I can afford the ground rent in a few years’ time’, despite the Freeholder, MEA Real Estate Limited offering to waive the terms of the lease for a one-time payment of £100,000 – a quarter of the value of the property.

Her previous solicitors, FBC Manby Bowdler have now been brought into the spotlight as the firm failed to provide adequate advice on the “ridiculous” clause and informing Ms Patterson of the implication of the incremental ground rent, relating closely to the growing practice of property developers offering leasehold tenures.

In a recent statement, solicitors representing FBC Manby Bowdler have omitted to justify on the specific case for reasons of client confidentiality, but stated that the firm always strove to offer a first-class service to all its clients and adherence to the Solicitor’s Code of Conduct.

London firm, Osbornes Law have since taken over to represent the leaseholder. Acting on behalf of Ms Patterson, Head of Litigation Shilpa Mathuradas notes that their client has been left in a “horrendous position” which has directly stemmed from negligence on the part of the acting solicitors for failing to provide a service to a reasonable standard.

My conveyancing solicitor has been negligent

A solicitor must hold a greater professional standard of care in servicing their client’s affairs however solicitors on occasion fail to act in their client’s best interest.  As a matter of conduct, solicitors are highly regulated and owe their clients a contractual, statutory and tortious duty of care. The last thing you expect when you hire a professional is for them to be negligent.

Professional negligence claims against members of the legal profession tend to be complex in nature and argument. Professional indemnity insurers will often instruct a specialist City of London law firm to defend claims vigorously, thus it is essential to take legal advice at the outset from our expert professional negligence team.

We understand as lawyers where solicitors go wrong and where solicitors have failed to act upon their client’s instructions.

Examples of negligence by a licensed conveyancer

  • Conveyancer fails to properly check title deeds, official copies of title;
  • failure to recognise the existence of a restrictive covenant;
  • negligent negotiation of restrictive covenant insurance; for example on discovery of the restrictive covenant, the conveyancer alerts the person with the benefit before seeking restrictive covenant insurance;
  • failure to spot any physical or latent defects;
  • failure to do the proper checks e.g. failing to notice that the seller of the property had failed to get planning permission, building regulations, listed building or conservation area consent;
  • problems with rights of way e.g. the right of way is not appropriate for the buyer’s needs;
  • failure to make further enquiries following seller’s replies or property search results;
  • drafting incorrect provisions in the sale deed or contract;
  • acting without authority or not properly adhering to instructions from the buyer or seller client;
  • failing to give proper advice on a surveyor’s report.

How much is my professional negligence claim worth?

Quantification of losses is a significant part of any negligence claim. It is likely that expert evidence will be required to ascertain losses (usually from a surveyor, valuer or forensic accountant). A general rule of thumb is that the starting point will be the reduction in the value of the property as a result of the negligence from the conveyancer.

Instruct Specialist Professional Negligence Solicitors

We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers operating from the only law firm based in the Middle Temple Inn of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice. The firm is made up of exceptional lawyers who are practising solicitors and barristers supported by high quality paralegals, legal apprentices and other legal support staff. We regularly work in conjunction with leading Queen’s Counsel and junior barristers from chambers predominantly in London near to our own chambers in Middle Temple.

Our team can provide the best expertise in advising on claims for compensation against professionals that have fallen below the standard expected, which causes clients financial or personal losses. We are experienced in bringing you successful claims against negligent solicitors, barristers, financial advisors, surveyors, valuers, architects, tax advisors and IFAs.

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