Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED November 6, 2003

The claimant had failed to establish that a solicitor at the defendant law firm had either negligently failed to advise her or had given her erroneous advice on the limitation period in defamation claims.Claim for damages for alleged negligent advice given by the defendant solicitors ('Roebuck') to the claimant ('P') as to the limitation period in defamation cases. In December 1998 P contacted a solicitor ('T') at Roebuck regarding the publication of a newspaper article about her. P alleged that in March 1999 T advised her that the relevant limitation period for a defamation claim was three years, as a result of which she lost the opportunity of recovering general damages for libel. T denied that he had so advised P and said he knew at the material time that the relevant limitation period was one year. Roebuck argued that P had been advised by T and by counsel that she should not pursue any libel claim because of the risk of adverse publicity and the financial implications of issuing such proceedings, and that she accepted that advice. No advice was given by T about the limitation period at the relevant time as the question had not arisen, because P at that time had decided not to pursue the matter.HELD: (1) Roebuck was not guilty of negligence in giving P wrong advice about the limitation period in defamation cases. T had known all along that the limitation period was one year and had told P in April 2000 that there was a year's time limit. (2) It was not negligent on the part of T not to have advised P as to the limitation period when they met in March 1999. Where, as here, the client had been told that her case was not worth pursuing and had informed the solicitor that for financial reasons she was not going to proceed with the claim, it was not negligent on the part of the solicitor to have omitted to give advice about limitation. (3) P had failed to establish any negligence on the part of Roebuck.Claim dismissed.

[2003] EWHC 2553 (QB)