A deluge of negligence claims against solicitors for coal miners’ compensation advice could hit the courts according to a specialist personal injury lawyer.

This follows the first case to be decided in court which found in favour of a miner who claimed he had been given negligent advice in respect of the government’s coal health compensation scheme.  This was a compensation scheme for miners who had developed the medical conditions vibration white finger and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The scheme, set up in 1999, led to controversy about the level of fees solicitors earned and deductions that some solicitors made from miners’ compensation.

In Barnaby v Raleys Solicitors, Leeds County Court heard that Ronald Barnaby had developed vibration white finger working as a coal miner.  He had claimed under the coal health compensation scheme and settled for £10,800 in 2002.  He argued in court that he had abandoned an additional services claim due to negligent advice from his solicitor Raleys.  The judge found in favour of Mr Baranby, awarding him £7,400.

Mr Barnaby’s solicitor, Rob Godfrey, partner and head of professional negligence at Mellor Hargreaves, has been reported as saying that this could be the first of ‘thousands’ of similar claims.

James Burgoyne, Director, Brunel Professional Risks said: “Many law firms have done a fantastic job in helping miners secure compensation for work-related injuriesUnfortunately the coal health compensation scheme proved highly controversial and it looks like more claims of negligence against solicitors are still to be settled.  Any firm that becomes aware of a potential claim should alert its professional indemnity insurers at the first possible opportunity.  We help all our solicitor clients in handling negligence claims and are ready to offer advice and guidance about professional indemnity insurance at all stages of the process.”

The Barnaby case has been reported in Solicitors Journal and Law Society Gazette.  Background on the coal health compensation scheme was also published by the Law Society Gazette in 2009 at this link.