The law firms which handled claims under the miners’ compensation are bracing themselves for a flurry of claims following the outcome of a landmark negligence ruling.
Ronald Barnaby was awarded £7,400 by Leeds County Court at the end of July for his claim against Yorkshire firm Raleys – believed to be the first professional negligence ruling.
Following the miner’s compensation scandal, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal took action against many firms involved, and Mr Barnaby’s solicitor expects many more rulings to come.
Rob Godfrey, partner and head of professional negligence at Mellor Hargreaves in Oldham, said they currently have 126 cases that are ongoing which relate to the miners’ compensation scheme.
Of those cases, seven are listed for trial before November while he added that his firm had settled around 30 to 40 further negligence cases and had offered to discuss Mr Barnaby’s claim with Raleys.
“Why they chose to fight this claim, I’ve no idea,” Mr Godfrey said. “The judgment as it stands is very damning, but it gives an indication of the advice that should have been given by the firm.
“This case is like so many others. Solicitors representing the miners failed to properly advise claimants and importantly, ensure the clients were armed with all the facts available to enable them to make an informed decision.
“A number of firms dealt with thousands of claimants, the majority of whom were never seen at interview but were simply ‘processed’ through questionnaires.”
The court heard that Mr Barnaby had developed Vibration White Finger after working in the mines for the National Coal Board for 16 years and in a separate year for a private company.
He had claimed against both employers in 2002 and agreed to settle his claim for £10,800 plus interest, but returned to the case claiming negligent advice was given to him by Raleys, who in turn argued that he dropped the claim for his own reasons.
Judge Goswell delivered a verdict that said the original claim has a “real and substantial prospect of success that was more than negligible” and ruled in favour of Mr. Barnaby.
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