The decision by the High Court on Friday is being hailed by consumer champions as a substantial victory for the clients of law firms advising on the purchase or investment in holiday homes abroad. The decision will affect thousands who were the subject of either bogus or failed developments in Spain, Italy and elsewhere. In the AIG Europe v OC320301 LLP & Ors AIG, insurers to many law firms, argued that because clients paid deposits to the same solicitor for similar transactions the claims should be aggregated into one claim and thus subject to a limit of cover which would have paid back clients a small proportion of the deposit. The High Court concluded that this was wrong and the clients were each entitled to the minimum cover for their individual claims.
David Greene, Edwin Coe litigation partner commented: “This is great news for consumers and a real blow for the insurers; the clients of law firms which advised on the purchase of the holiday homes in European resorts. It’s so often the classic tale of the dream home turning into a nightmare for purchasers. In the Giambrone case, in which the Court has recently found the lawyers liable to its clients, the developments being sold turned out to be the subject of a conspiracy between the IRA and the Calabrian mafia.”
“For some years the insurers such as AIG have been arguing that clients of law firms which breach their obligations to them are only entitled to a small proportion of their loss because the claims are all aggregated within the minimum cover of £3 million. Usually the threat of this argument forces consumers into accepting low offers from the insurers. The Court has decided, however, that the insurers argument is wrong and the clients of law firms are entitled to the cover of £3 million each allowing them to make a full recovery of their loss.”
About Edwin Coe LLP
Edwin Coe LLP is best known for its work in representing large groups of the public in claims relating to consumer issues, banking, shares. It was the first firm in the UK to specialise in non-conflict class actions and as a result has been involved in many of the major mass claims over 30 years including the Lockerbie Inquiries and litigation. It is currently litigating for hundreds of investors in film investments against HSBC, for timeshare investors against Barclays Bank in relation to fraud and for investors in other schemes and for hundreds of truck owners in relation to a price-fixing cartel by manufacturers. It has represented 50,000 shareholders in a claim against the Government; 32,000 convenience store owners in competition issues; and 36,000 private shareholders in Northern Rock. It has recently settled a claim for hundreds of South American flower farmers in a claim against British Airways for price-fixing.
In addition, the firm acts in mass torts and is representing claimant victims of the Hillsborough disaster and child abuse victims.
In addition, the firm undertakes public law issues and represented the first claimant in the Article 50 litigation, MPs in the proroguing litigation, the claimant in relation to a challenge under the Good Friday Agreement and, very recently, protesters to HS2 construction.