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‘Major implications for solicitors’: Law Society backs Mishcon in Dreamvar property fraud case

The Law Society is considering intervening in a negligence case between Mishcon de Reya and its former client, Dreamvar, after Dreamvar was duped into buying a property from a fake owner.

A High Court judgment in December last year found Mishcon liable for negligence and ordered the firm to pay £1.08m to Dreamvar in damages.

In September 2014, Dreamvar was duped into buying a £1.1m property in Earl’s Court, West London. The property seller impersonated the actual property owner via a forged driving licence and TV licence before disappearing with the £1.1m fee.

Dreamvar’s claims against Mishcon related to its failure to identify ‘a number of features relating to the transaction which individually or collectively should have alerted it to there being a real risk of fraud.’

Mishcon is taking the case to the Court of Appeal, and stated that: ‘This judgment has major implications for solicitors and for the professional indemnity market. This goes beyond real estate and the result will impact on all transactional lawyers.’

The Law Society has announced its intention to intervene in the case, but was unable to provide a timeline for when a decision will be made.

Law Society president Robert Bourns said: ‘The Law Society is aware of the Dreamvar case and the potential difficulties it poses for practitioners working in conveyancing. We are currently considering the full implications of the case, including whether it would be appropriate for us to intervene in the appeal and what additional guidance we should provide to practitioners on the matter.’

Robin Simon represented Mishcon in the case, and instructed Radcliffe Chambers’ Jeremy Cousins QC and Peter Dodge. Dreamvar was represented by Healys which instructed David Halpern QC.