High Court victory for group action claim against lawyers of failed Italian holiday development

Posted: 14/07/2015


Penningtons Manches’ professional negligence lawyers acting for around 100 investors who have lost substantial deposits in the failed Jewel of the Sea and El Caribe holiday developments in Calabria, Southern Italy have scored a High Court victory against Giambrone & Law, the solicitors acting for the developers.

In the Approved Judgment handed down by Mr Justice Foskett on 7 July 2015, he said: “On the evidence I have heard, it is quite clear that Avvocato Giambrone saw a lucrative business opportunity in Calabria when there was a 'boom' in off-plan transactions in the holiday residence market...  It is possible that he (as a relatively inexperienced practitioner himself) found his very new firm being inundated with requests to act (which, of course, he had solicited with the active encouragement of the developers and promoters) when the firm’s resources were not sufficient (or not sufficiently experienced) to cope with the demand.

“As a result, either corners were cut or, because he had insufficient experience of what the English solicitor (whose standards he said he set out to adopt) would be required to do in such a situation, the standard of work was inadequate. However it came about, the preliminary contract was wholly inadequate to protect the interests of the purchasers and there is no doubt that the purchasers were not given certain relevant information (for example, relating to the payment structure for the project and the level of commission going to the promoter) that they ought to have been given in order to make an informed decision about whether to proceed.”

But the fight goes on for the claimants as Giambrone and his professional indemnity insurers, AIG, say that there is no insurance money left for the hundreds of outstanding claimants.

Penningtons Manches partner, David Niven, who leads the team acting on this case, said: “We are very happy with this careful and lengthy judgment which we hope will now lead to a speedy resolution of my clients’ claims, which have already lasted years. I hope that the insurers, AIG, will at last see fit to take up the judge’s invitation to see his judgment as an opportunity to review the position, not least in view of the judge’s clear conclusions that Giambrone & Law were guilty of wide-ranging breaches of their duties in negligence and trust to my clients.”

Further details of this case can be viewed in the article published by The Lawyer here.


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