Case summary

The recent case of Baines v Dixon Coles and Gill (A Firm) and others [2020] EWHC 2809 (28 October 2020) provides guidance to solicitors and clients on the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority’s Terms and Conditions of Professional Indemnity Insurance and the protection it provides.

Key facts and decision

A partner in the defendant firm of solicitors had stolen money from numerous clients using false accounting methods to try and cover his tracks.

The court considered whether the thefts could be treated as one claim or whether each client had a separate claim. If all the thefts were treated as one claim, then the £2 million pound policy limit would apply. However, as the total value of all the claims was £4 million, this would result in a shortfall for which the remaining partners would be personally liable. If each client were allowed to bring a separate claim, they would each benefit from the full £2 million policy cover.

His Honourable Judge Saffman agreed that the thefts were linked by the intention, method and state of mind. The intention to steal as much money as possible, the method of false accounting used and the partner’s dishonest state of mind. However, he concluded that the thefts were still different acts resulting in different losses to different clients. Consequently, each client was entitled to bring a separate claim and benefit from the full £2 million policy limit.

His Honourable Judge Saffman considered “it would be absurd” if victims of a thief using sophisticated methods were afford less protection than the victims of an opportunist employing different methods each time. 


The decision will reassure both clients and firms that professional indemnity insurance provides adequate protection. 

The decision provides clarification on the application of aggregation clauses in solicitor professional indemnity cases, but it will also offer guidance on how to apply aggregation clauses on other types of insurance claims as well.

Should you have any questions in respect of the above or require more information about bankruptcy proceedings generally, then please contact James Thornton or Anna Barfield from our Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team.

James Thornton – Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution


Tel: 01925 217026

Anna Barfield – Trainee Solicitor


Tel: 01925 263273

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only.

The contents of this post do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only