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The Football League Ltd v edge ellison (2006) EWHC 1462 (Ch)

In 2000 the Football League put its broadcasting rights out to tender using various external advisors, including edge ellison for legal advice. A number of broadcasters were bidding for the rights, including ITV Digital. On 14th June 2000 the four broadcasters still apparently interested in the Football League’s rights were given 24 hours to put forward their final bids. Only ITV Digital submitted their bid by the deadline. They paid £315 million for a three year contract even though they were the only bidder. ITV Digital went into administration in March 2002, owing £178.5 million under the broadcast rights contract. The Football League launched an action against Carlton and Granada, who were ITV Digital’s parents. However, they had not been parties to the contract so the Football League turned the £140 million pound action on to edge ellison. The action failed, but a key issue had been raised as to whether edge ellison owed a duty to the Football League proactively to seek its instructions as to whether parental guarantees should be sought. It was held that edge ellison owed no such duty, but Mr Justice Rimer did find that on 15th June 2000 they should have asked for a copy of the contract on which they were advising. Although it was unlikely that such action would have had any impact on the outcome. The decision was welcomed by professionals and their insurers as the High Court took a narrow approach to the scope of duty, confirming that there is no such thing as a general retainer and that only in limited circumstances will a solicitor's duties go beyond the express terms of his retainer. The decision also evidences a serious continued willingness to curtail the circumstances in which a solicitor will bear responsibility for business decisions reached by commercially astute clients. -

White and Another -v- Jones and Another [1995] 2 AC 207

A solicitor was instructed to prepare a will but delayed in so doing. In the meantime the testator died. Lord Browne-Wilkinson stated ‘By accepting instructions to draft a will, a solicitor does come into a special relationship with those intended to benefit under it in consequence of which the law imposes a duty to the intended beneficiary to act with due expedition and care in relation to the task on which he has entered the assumption of responsibility..’ -