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Claimants face £1m legal costs bill following professional negligence appeal loss

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A British couple who ended up losing their appeal following a claim against an architect (and former friend) over the free landscaping advice she provided are facing a huge legal bill for costs.

Multi-millionaire couple Peter and Lynn Burgess say the planning and work that was carried out at the garden of their £5 million London home would have been finished more quickly and would also have been cheaper had they not followed her advice. The couple, Peter and Lynn Burgess , had originally accepted the advice from former friend Basia Lejonvarn after deciding that a quote from another professional landscape garden designer was too high.

Following Ms Lejonvarns initial help, the Burgess’s then decided to hire different contractors to complete the work at a lower price. However, when this didn’t proceed to their satisfaction, the couple returned to Lejonvarns to finish the job. In their original legal action for professional negligence, the couple claimed that, although the advice was free and from a friend, Ms Lejonvarn owed them a duty of care. In response, Ms Lejonvarn insisted that her advice was offered purely on an informal and social basis, not in any professional capacity.

Legal Costs Bill

Following judgement at the Court of Appeal in London, in which the Burges’s claim was described as ‘speculative and weak’, the couple are now facing an indemnity legal costs bill in excess of £1m. In handing down judgment, Lord Justice Coulson said:

There was a time, 30 or 40 years ago, when construction litigation was a byword for expense and delay, and where costs were often out of all proportion to the sums at stake..occasionally circumstances conspire to create a construction case with echoes of the bad old days. Unfortunately this is one such case.”

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