Howard Colman of Colman Coyle has been acting on behalf of a large group of investors based in numerous countries who sought to recover monies, which they had lost as the result of the failure of a property investment scheme in which they had participated in 2013/14.
The investors advanced monies to fund the development of a property in which they were ultimately to each have a leasehold interest but, unbeknown to them, the property was subject to existing charges. When the holders of those charges exercised their rights, prior to completion of the leases, the leaseholders lost all of their investments.
The amounts of loss varied. The majority of investors lost in the region of £50,000 each but some lost substantially more up to, in one case, in excess of £1 million!
A group action was commenced against the solicitors who acted for the investors when making the investments, Beech Jones Limited (who are now in liquidation) claiming damages for negligence and breach of contract and also against Whitfields Solicitors, who acted for the Vendor, claiming damages for breach of trust in releasing the deposit monies improperly.
The case was complicated as, not only were there a large number of Claimants who had little or no connection with each other (other than being part of the same investment), but in addition, they were based in a large number of countries throughout the world including USA, Canada, Middle East, Far East, UK and elsewhere.
Some of the Claimants spoke little or no English and a large number had no familiarity with the English Court processes. Additionally, there were restrictions on the ability to use various IT platforms in some of the countries.
Acting for groups of Claimants in this sort of claim is always a challenge but fortunately Howard’s extensive experience in acting for Claimants in group actions proved invaluable in being able to manage the claims and pursue them through the Court processes.
The claims eventually reached the point where a trial of several lead cases was due to take place in November 2020 in the High Court in London. However, shortly before the trial, Howard was successful in negotiating a multi-million pound settlement with the Defendants which has resulted in the investors recouping all of their original investments and the costs which they incurred in pursuing the claims.
Howard commented, “I am delighted to have been able to achieve an excellent result for so many clients. This is particularly as, although some of the investors were wealthy, others were not and the losses had affected them significantly. I am also grateful for, and humbled by, some of the lovely comments received from the clients”.
Amongst many emails expressing gratitude, some of the comments, which stand out, include-
“I would like to thank you for all the hard work you put in to resolve this matter. My wife can rest in peace a little more now as she always advised me against the investment”.
“I would like you to know that this will make so much difference to my life and I am overjoyed. Your professional work was magnificent. Thank you so much, nothing short of a miracle”.
Especially for those of us who spend the majority of our time acting for commercial clients, results and comments like these are a great reminder of the positive effect we can have by using our professional expertise to obtain redress for clients, which can have a significant impact on their lives in many ways.