Mrs S had worked in a role that required her to carry out large quantities of photocopying. She became unwell with asthma and bronchitis and believing this to be a consequence of breathing in excessive amounts of toner dust, she took the decision to leave her job and pursue a personal injury claim.
The firm agreed to act for Mrs S and the claim proceeded until the firm advised her that the prospects of success were low and that she should drop the case. A year-and-a-half later, she received the defendant’s bill of costs of over £40k.
We investigated Mrs S’ complaint that the firm had told her it had taken out an after an event (ATE) insurance policy to protect her from this liability, but this turned out not to be the case. As a result, when Mrs S took the firm’s advice to discontinue the claim, she ended up having to take out two expensive personal loans to pay the debt. The firm argued they had not been able to obtain ATE insurance and so they were not liable for the other side’s costs.
We decided that the firm had not made it clear to Mrs S that it was impossible for them to protect her with ATE insurance cover. As a result she was not put in a position to make a fully informed decision about whether or not to pursue the claim only valued at £8K. She did not understand that she would be personally liable for any costs should she lose, which were foreseeably likely to be substantially higher than what her claim was worth. As we determined it was highly unlikely Mrs S would have pursued the claim had she been aware of the real risks, we directed that the firm cover her costs paid to the defendant and the interest she was forced to pay on personal loans, which amounted to a total of £48,990.