In the recently reported case of Mansion Estates Ltd v Hayre & Co (a firm)  EWHC 96 (Ch) the High Court in Leeds ordered a solicitor, who had used the wrong plan in a property transaction, to pay substantial damages to a client.
In late 2006 the Claimant instructed the Defendant firm of solicitors, Hayre & Co (the Solicitor) to act on its behalf in the purchase of land at 60 to 64 Toller Lane, Bradford for £1.7million.
The Solicitor was also instructed to act in the simultaneous sale of part of that land, 60 Toller Lane, by the Claimant to a Mr Narwar Khan (the Purchaser) for £450,000.
As this was a sale of part of a property, a plan showing the land being sold to the Purchaser and the land being retained by the Claimant was required.
The Claimant gave the Solicitor a plan signed by a director which showed that the Claimant was retaining ownership of the entrance to a car park and a road running north/south in the retained land.
Unfortunately, the Solicitor attached the wrong plan (one which hadn’t been signed) to the all-important Transfer deed. As a result , the Claimant sold more land than it had intended or agreed. The entrance to the car park had been transferred to the Purchaser so, although the Claimant retained ownership of the car park, it was unable to access it. Other parts of land had also been transferred mistakenly, causing other access problems for the Claimant.
A simple solution to the problem would have been for the Purchaser to give back to the Claimant the land that had been mistakenly transferred. However, the Purchaser was not obliged to do so and decided it was not something he wished to do.
The Claimant’s use and enjoyment of its land was restricted and, as a result, the retained land was worth over £200,000 less than it would have been had the correct plan been used.
Given the circumstances and the sums involved, understandably the claimant sought to recover his losses from the Solicitor who attempted, unsuccessfully, to dispute liability. The court which heard the claim decided that the use of the wrong plan had diminished the value of the land and awarded the Claimant £211,500 as compensation for this.
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