Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED April 1, 2003

A claim against solicitors for alleged negligence in relation to the terms of a 1993 agreement was statute-barred because the claimant suffered actual damage and his cause of action accrued when he entered into the agreement which he claimed was less advantageous to him than it should have been.Appeal by the claimant ('M') from a decision of Gray J granting the defendant solicitors summary judgment on their limitation defence in proceedings by M alleging negligence in relation to a recording contract signed in 1993 between the band Oasis, of which M was formerly the drummer, and Sony. In 1995 M was summarily expelled from the band. His case was that it was not properly explained to him that the effect of the agreement he had signed left him vulnerable to instant dismissal without compensation. The defence denied liability and also relied on the provisions of the Limitation Act 1980. The judge held that M suffered damage when the agreement was executed and by virtue of s.2 of the 1980 Act the cause of action accrued more than six years before the proceedings were issued in April 2001. The judge further held that M could not rely on ss.14A or 32 of the Act because he knew that his damage was attributable to the act or omission of the defendants shortly after his expulsion from the band in 1995 and there was no real prospect of showing deliberate concealment of any fact necessary to complete or plead his claim. M appealed.HELD: (1) Given the assumed breach of duty, M suffered damage from the moment the Sony agreement was made. He was party to an agreement that he claimed was, by reason of the negligence of the defendants, less favourable to him than it should have been. The risk of instant expulsion constituted actual loss. Knapp v Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (1998) PNLR 172 and DW Moore & Co Ltd v Ferrier (1988) 1 WLR 267 applied. (2) The judge was right on s.14A. M had knowledge of the basic set of essential facts relevant to his cause of action at such time before the action was commenced that it was barred by limitation. (3) The judge was right on s.32 that there was no real prospect of proving deliberate concealment of a relevant fact.Appeal dismissed.

[2003] EWCA Civ 425