The Court of Appeal's decision in Bird and Bird v Orientfield following the firm's failure to report fully on the results of a Plansearch will no doubt spark fear and mitigating action amongst real estate solicitors.
Although the use of Plansearches has become increasingly common practice due to the level of detail they provide, in light of this case it would be wise for practitioners not to obtain them without an express instruction from the client, and even then with input from planning colleagues who can review them fully.
We have a duty to disclose all relevant information to our clients , but how often do we really get the full picture on what they are interested in and what might be considered important? This case serves as a reminder of the need for careful reporting, and a prudent solicitor should take steps to highlight issues as soon as they are discovered. Understanding our clients' businesses and intentions is key.
The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court ruling that found Bird & Bird liable to a client who pulled out of a property transaction after discovering the existence of a nearby development just days before it was due to complete.