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26 August 2015 0 Comments
Posted in Employment, Opinion

Negligent solicitors failed to advise on jurisdiction

Author headshot image Posted by , Partner

In Wright v Lewis Silkin LLP, the High Court has held that the lawyers who were advising on the Employment Contract for the CEO of an Indian Premier League cricket franchise were in breach of their duty of skill and care in failing to advise on jurisdiction in the contract terms. The Claimant was dismissed and brought proceedings against the holders of the franchise in England; but there were challenges to service and jurisdiction and it took several years before he obtained judgment in the sum of around £10 million. He then struggled to enforce the judgment in India.

His argument was that, had his contract contained an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of England and Wales, he would have obtained a judgment much sooner and would have had a real prospect of successfully enforcing it.

The oral evidence threw up a dispute between the parties as to whether advice on jurisdiction had been given. After considering all the evidence the judge concluded that the partner who had acted on behalf of Mr Wright had not advised on jurisdiction and had appeared to have “reconstructed” his memory in asserting that he had done. Although he was considered to be a truthful witness the Judge through that his genuinely held belief that he did advise on jurisdiction was not what actually happened.

The claims that the firm were in further breach of duty for not advising on how to secure an effective means of enforcement of obligations under the severance guarantee and for not including a provision for service of proceedings in the UK did not succeed as these were not held to be usual components of an employment contract.

This case is a salient reminder to advise on jurisdiction when considering contracts with a foreign element. It is also a timely reminder to make sure all advice is documented.

This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.

For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.


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