New Judgment: Roberts v Gill & Co Solicitors & Ors  UKSC 22
19 Wednesday May 2010
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 803
A firm of solicitors advising a person administering an estate does not owe a duty of care to the beneficiaries of that estate personally; rather the duty of care is owed to the estate of the dead person. Normally the proper person to bring any claim for negligence, therefore, would be the person administering the estate. A beneficiary of a will may bring a claim on behalf of the estate, but only where ‘special circumstances’ exist. The appellant beneficiary applied to amend his claim in negligence so as to continue it both in his own personal capacity and on behalf of the estate.
The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. The majority dismissing the appeal on the basis that the amendment was time-barred under the Limitation Act 1980, s 35 and the Civil Procedure Rules, r 19.5. Lords Hope and Clarke ruled in favour of the respondents on the ground that there were no special circumstances.