Who can sue the solicitor?

‘the Client’

You might think there would be an obvious answer to the question who can sue a solicitor? In fact, there can be more to it than meets the eye.

Of course, when a client engages a lawyer then one would expect the client to have the right to sue the lawyer should the lawyer provide a negligent service. However, the identity of ‘the client’ warrants careful consideration.

Consider the following scenario: Mr and Mrs A are husband and wife. They have run a business together for many years. They have always used the same solicitor for all business matters. They run their business as a limited company. When the solicitor to their business makes a mess of some litigation involving the business, the result is that the business is placed in to liquidation. Mr and Mrs A lose all the money they had invested in the business. You might expect that Mr and Mrs A can sue the solicitor, but because they ran their business through a limited company, it is likely that the limited company is the ‘client’, and not Mr and Mrs A. Furthermore, as the company is now controlled by a liquidator rather than Mr and Mrs A, they cannot even force the company to sue the solicitor: that decision rests with the liquidator.