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Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby theycantdothat » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:35 pm

Messrs X, Y, Z & Co acted for Mrs A on the purchase of a long lease. The lease is complete pig's ear and no way should Messrs X, Y, Z & Co have approved it. Mrs A dies blissfully unaware that the lease is defective. The lease is now vested in Mrs A's heir who is having problems because the maintenance provisions in the lease are defective. Assuming there are no limitation problems, does the heir have any legal standing to sue Messrs X, Y, Z & Co? I would have thought not, but would like the position confirmed.

Would it make any difference if the lease were still vested in the personal representatives? Would they have the legal standing to sue?
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby atticus » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:45 pm

PRs would certainly have standing.
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby theycantdothat » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:09 am

I suspected PRs might have legal standing to sue.

Is it the case then that beneficiaries have to take property warts and all?
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby dls » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:44 am

TCDT is right, I think. They inherit whatever it is there was to inherit, not what the donor might have wanted them to inherit.
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby theycantdothat » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:13 am

Is it possible then that the following, which any layman would consider odd, is the position where someone is the personal representative and beneficiary entitled to the property: Before he assents to property vesting in himself he can sue, but once he has assented he cannot?
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby dls » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:23 am

The question is whether a right of action attaches to the person who suffered the wrong or the object. The lease does not have a right to be a better lease.
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby atticus » Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:39 pm

To whom is the duty of care owed (Caparo)? To the client? Or to the client and his successors in title?

The answer is of course the former.
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby theycantdothat » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:57 pm

I can see that a duty of care is not owed to a buyer because it is up to him to investigate title. But what about successors in title who do not generally investigate title such as devisees under a will or donees? To take an extreme example, suppose a man buys a plot to build a house on, but there is an enforcebable covenant on the title which prevents building and the difference in value between the land as a building plot and as a garden is £100,000. Is any devisee or donee owed a duty of care?
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby atticus » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:29 am

See above, and also Caparo.

What is the devisee's loss?
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Re: Can an heir sue for negligence by conveyancer?

Postby dls » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:17 am

To take an extreme example, suppose a man buys a plot to build a house on, but there is an enforcebable covenant on the title which prevents building and the difference in value between the land as a building plot and as a garden is £100,000. Is any devisee or donee owed a duty of care?


No. It is quite possible that a gift is made precisely and only because of the reduced value.
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