The claimant had been working at a hospital under a training contract. At his final assessment, he was informed that he had failed. As a result letters were sent to the Director of Postgraduate General Practice and the Regional Director of Health to all Course Organisers and NHS Trust Chief Executives warning them that the claimant had failed to meet the standard of competence required. The claimant sued for libel, but failed to serve each claim form during the period of its validity. An application to extend the time for service failed with the result that each action was barred from proceeding.

The claimant then brought proceedings against his solicitors for breach of contract or negligence. The solicitors issued an application to strike out the claim on the grounds that the claim stood no real prospect of successfully establishing that any breach by the solicitors would cause the claimant loss. The claim was struck out.

On appeal it was held that the trial Judge was correct to strike out the claim. There was no material to demonstrate that there was a realistic prospect of persuading a court to disapply the primary limitation period. The claim therefore had no value.

Proceedings are often brought against solicitors where their negligence has resulted in the claim being time barred or struck out, and even in relatively weak cases we are able to argue that the claimant has lost a chance. However, if the solicitors can establish that there really was no real chance of the claimant succeeding, the claimant will still recover nothing.

Al-Ruby -v- Quist Solicitors (2007) EWHC 2297 11/10/2007

How is the Compensation Act working in restraining the claims cowboys?

Michael Boleat, former head of Claims Management Regulation at the Ministry of Justice, has an article in the September 2007 Personal Injury Law Journal setting out what has happened in the year since the Compensation Act was passed. He believes that the regulation of claims management companies has had a significant effect in removing malpractice:

a) Cold calling in person has been significantly reduced.
b) Unauthorised marketing in hospitals has been reduced by about 90 per cent.
c) A joint strategy is in place for the SRA to reduce other malpractice in the acquisition of personal injury claims.
d) An effective strategy has been developed for handling contrived accidents including close co-operation with various enforcement agencies.
e) Misleading use of the expression “no win, no fee” has been largely eliminated.
f) Misleading claims on websites to be almost entirely removed and the rules requiring websites to give a physical address are being complied with.