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KWM wins disclosure argument in £2m professional negligence battle

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has won a key argument over document disclosure in an ongoing £2m professional negligence claim against it taken by Commodities Research Unit International (CRUI) at London’s High Court.

KWM was accused of professional negligence by its former client after giving advice on the departure of the company’s chief executive. CRUI blamed KWM for subsequent exposure to an underlying suit brought by the former chief executive that it settled for £1.35m. CRUI is now seeking that amount plus more than £800,000 in costs which it incurred in defending the underlying proceedings, as well as additional claim to compensate it for management time devoted to the case.

11 King’s Bench Walk barrister Nigel Porter was instructed by RPC for the defendant while 4 New Square silk Nicholas Davidson QC was instructed by City firm Fox for the claimants.

KWM sought an order for specific disclosure in December 2015 and the matter was heard last month. 

In a decision passed down by Justice Nicol, KWM has now won access to certain communications between CRUI and its counsel Norton Rose Fulbright in the underlying suit. The judge said: ‘In the circumstances, disclosure is necessary for the fair disposal of the present proceedings and would not be disproportionate. The defendants are entitled to inspect [the documents].’

Justice Nicol did not however waive privilege for disclosure of documents regarding work undertaken for CRUI by consultancy firm Monk or KPMG for the dispute. The trial is due to start on Monday (8 February).

A spokesperson from the firm said: ‘This was an SJ Berwin matter that dates back to 2008. We are strenuously defending the case.’

Other recent professional negligence news of late includes Clifford Chance settling a claim against it over the high-profile Excalibur dispute brought by the case’s funders and Greek shipping tycoons, the Lemos family, for an undisclosed sum.