Law firm Collyer Bristow has successfully defended allegations of conspiracy, dishonest assistance, and negligence during a 16-week trial in the High Court.

A group action, brought by 555 claimants, alleged that the firm was in breach of financial services regulations when it advised on a series of tax efficient investment schemes relating to technology products – know as the Innovator One schemes.The judge dismissed the claims against Collyer Bristow in a lengthy judgement which made reference to the facts that leading counsel had advised on the structure of the scheme, that many professional parties were brought into the scheme and that a former Collyer Bristow partner had obtained no personal advantage.  He concluded that, “although the Claimants were understandably aggrieved to lose their cash contributions and receive back only limited tax relief, there are obvious risks in going into aggressive tax schemes which offer the prospect of almost immediately doubling your money.”

The Law Society Gazette and The Lawyer have reported on case and law firm Mills & Reeve has published a summary of the case.

It’s good to see that a robust defence of a professional liability action can bring success, however wherever possible it is best to avoid a potentially damaging dispute in the first place,” said James Burgoyne, Director, Brunel Professional Risks.  “We advise all our clients about how to manage risks in their businesses.  With the solicitor’s professional indemnity insurance renewal round the corner, lawyers should start thinking carefully about how they present their risks to the professional indemnity insurance market.  A poor or inappropriate presentation can represent a significant loss of opportunity.”