High Court Dismisses £55m Claim Against Law Firms


In April 2024, a significant legal battle concluded as the High Court dismissed a £55 million professional negligence and breach of duty claim brought by a businessman against two prominent law firms, Fox Williams and Wiggin.

Expert Commercial Law explores the allegations, the legal arguments presented, and the court’s rationale for dismissing the claim as an abuse of process.

Background of the Case

The dispute originated when Mr. Banner, director of Banner Universal Motion Pictures (BUMP), instructed Fox Williams to pursue claims for copyright infringement, breach of confidence, and passing off against three major media companies, represented by Wiggin. The claims were centred around a TV game called Minute Winner, which BUMP contended was its creation and had been infringed by a similar Swedish TV game, Minute to Win It. However, these claims were previously dismissed by Mr. Justice Snowden in 2016 and a Swedish court in 2014, citing no sustainable basis for the allegations.

The Allegations

Following the dismissal, Mr. Banner redirected his dissatisfaction towards his former and the opposing solicitors, alleging professional negligence and breach of duty.

BUMP claimed £55 million each from Fox Williams and Wiggin, encompassing lost royalties, damages, and future revenue losses.

The allegations extended to complaints to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) against individual lawyers and their defending firms, RPC and Browne Jacobson.

Court’s Findings and Rationale

Deputy Master Linwood critically assessed the merits of BUMP’s case. He described the pleadings as “prolix and substantial in word count” yet “unreasonably vague,” particularly concerning causation and the detailing of alleged losses.

He highlighted the lack of factual or evidential support for the claims and pointed out that even the suggested legal remedies, like specific disclosure or altering the trial scheme, wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

Mr. Banner was and is clearly very upset and angered by what he regarded as the theft of his intellectual property. He therefore turned his ire upon his previous solicitors and the solicitors representing the successful three defendants,” Deputy Master Linwood observed.

Conclusion of the Court

Deputy Master Linwood concluded that the claim was not only baseless but also vexatious and an abuse of process, posing a real risk of unnecessary expense for the defending law firms. Moreover, he noted that the claims were out of time under the Limitation Act, further weakening BUMP’s position.

Costs and Final Judgment

The court awarded over £110,000 in costs against BUMP, payable on an indemnity basis.

The judge instructed the defendants’ lawyers to ensure the final order reflected the claim’s lack of merit and its abusive nature.

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