11 February 2016 by

Duty of care owed when performing gratuitous services

In the recent High Court case of Burgess v Lejonvarn [2016] EWHC 40 (TCC) the Court has held that where gratuitous services were provided to a friend, the provider of the services owed a duty of care in tort.

The first issue for the court to decide was whether there was a contractual arrangement between the two parties. The professional consultant had agreed to provide design and project management services in relation to her friends’ redevelopment of their garden.

The court ruled that there was no contractual relationship between the professional consultant and her friends. Notwithstanding the fact that the professional consultant was providing design and project management services for the redevelopment of the garden, she never asked for payment for the works and no formal contract was ever discussed. In ruling that there was no contractual relationship, the court stated that there had been no offer and acceptance as required to create a contract. Further, the court ruled that there had been no consideration passing from the friends to the professional consultant.

Turning to the issue of whether the professional consultant owed her friends a duty of care in tort, the court ruled that the professional consultant did owe a duty of care in relation to a number of services performed. The professional consultant raised an argument that a duty of care in respect of pure economic loss could only arise from advice given, not a duty to perform services. The court rejected that argument. The court stated that work undertaken was “not a piece of brief ad hoc advice of the type occasionally preferred by professional people in a less formal context. Instead, the services were provided over a relatively lengthy period of time and involved considerable input an commitment on both sides. They also involved significant commercial expenditure on the part of the Burgesses. It would be wrong to categorise this as akin to a favour without legal responsibility.

This case should be considered by any professional who is willing to offer advice on an informal basis.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact us on 0207 288 4700 or email us at info@boltburdon.co.uk

29 January 2016 by Timothy Lucas

SEIS and EIS relief – extra incentives to invest

There are plenty of good reasons to invest in start-ups or existing small/medium–sized businesses. However, these types of investments are […]

5 February 2016 by Leah Veasey

Are you unhappy with your service charge bills?

One of the most contentious areas for leaseholders and landlords is service charges. Leaseholders are all too often unaware of […]

Signup To Our Weekly e-News

"*" indicates required fields

We’ll never share your details with any third party in line with our privacy policy.