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I thought I'd re-post this historical case as its re-surfaced this week after going to the court of appeal.

The Court of Appeal has upheld an earlier decision by the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) in Lejonvarn v Burgess. It found that a friend (Levonjarn), who provided free advice to the Burgesses on a landscaping project did owe a duty of care in tort relating to various services provided. 

The court listed a number of services carried out by the defendant which were deemed to constitute professional services. The below list should therefore act as a warning to a party undertaking the same or similar services gratuitously and / or in lieu of a contract.

If a party is carrying out any of the below professional services, it is likely that such a party will owe a duty of care to exercise reasonable skill and care not to cause economic loss:

  • Project management, including directing, inspecting and supervising the contractors' work, its timing and progress.
  • Preparing designs to enable a project to be priced sufficiently to allow a firm budget estimate to be prepared.
  • Preparing designs to enable a project to be constructed.
  • Receiving applications for payment from a contractor / contractors, and advising and directing an employer in respect of these payments.
  • Exercising cost control by preparing a budget of works, and overseeing actual expenditure against it.

Consider the context of any gratuitous professional services being given:

  • Have they been voluntarily tendered?
  • Are they provided in a ‘professional context and on a professional footing’, rather than an informal or social one?
  • Is there an obvious relationship of proximity between the parties?
  • Are you aware or ought to be aware that such services are likely to be relied upon?
  • Is it foreseeable that losses would arise from a failure by a party to exercise reasonable skill and care in the provision of these services?
  • Is this ad-hoc advice or lengthy work involving considerable input and commitment from the parties?
  • Will 'payment’ take the form of a fee for services at a later phase of the works?

See the case notes: https://www.burges-salmon.com/news-and-insight/legal-updates/favours-for-friends-do-you-owe-them-a-duty-of-care/

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    Favours for friends do you owe them a duty of care
    In the case of Lejonvarn v Burgess, the Court of Appeal examined whether a party has a duty of care when providing professional advice to friends.
  • PRO
    Can a friend who provided services for free be sued?


    Can a friend who provided services for free be sued? - Buckles Solicitors  
    It is not uncommon for professionals to be asked to help or advise friends, acquaintances and neighbours. However, sometimes things go wrong; if the…
  • PRO

    Stephenson Harwood successfully defends client's professional negligence claim

    Stephenson Harwood successfully defends client's professional negligence claim
    Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has advised Mrs Basia Lejonvarn in successfully defending a professional negligence claim brought against her.
  • PRO

    In my view, even if it's an informal engagement, all correspondence should be maintained via email with terms of engagement set out at all times.

    Just putting in a simple line, like, 'I am happy to assist and provide ideas but you shall remain in overall control, including decisions on finance and design ideas, at all time' can provide significant safeguards in the event of a dispute.

This reply was deleted.

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