Burgess v Lejonvarn
Citation:  EWHC 3166 (TCC)
In this claim, it was alleged that an architect had acted negligently in the provision of professional services for which there had been no payment. It was established at a preliminary issues hearing that, whilst there was no contract between the parties, the Defendant did owe the Claimants a duty of care. Following the preliminary issues hearing, the Court of Appeal clarified that any duty of care did not import positive obligations to act, only an obligation to take reasonable skill and care insofar as a service was actually carried out. The case was remitted back to the High Court to assess whether the Defendant had breached this duty of care.
Judge Martin Bowdery QC dismissed the claim. The claim for alleged negligent design and project management was described as lacking credibility and conviction, and the judge had difficulty understanding how the claim for allegedly negligent budgeting was maintained. In relation to the allegations of negligent inspection, the judge remarked that the claimants had fallen into the trap suggested by Mr. Justice Coulson in McGlinn v Waltham Contractors, of assuming that any alleged defect in the works must have been the result of negligence. In fact, each allegation of negligent inspection has to be considered on its own merits.
On the facts, all of the allegations of negligence made by the Claimants were dismissed. David Sheard acted for the successful Defendant (instructed by Stephenson Harwood)