Multi-Party Claim Forms

Gatehouse Chambers


Gatehouse Chambers (formerly Hardwicke) is a leading commercial chambers which specialises in arbitration and all forms of ADR, commercial dispute resolution, construction, insolvency, restructuring and company, insurance, professional liability and property disputes. It also has niche specialisms in clinical negligence and personal injury as well as private client work.
Claimants in professional negligence cases may wish to join forces under a single Claim Form to limit initial court fees and spread the risks and costs of the litigation between themselves.
UK Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on

Claimants in professional negligence cases may wish to join forces under a single Claim Form to limit initial court fees and spread the risks and costs of the litigation between themselves.

There are various ways to bring multi-party proceedings under the CPR, including representative proceedings under r.19.8 and Group Litigation Orders under r.19.21. Further, per r.19.1, "any number of claimants or defendants may be joined as parties to a claim" and, per r.7.3, "a claimant may use a single claim form to start all claims which can be conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings." These rules are often used to justify multi-party Claim Forms.

The previous leading case on this was Abbott v Ministry of Defence [2023] EWHC 1475 (KB) where it was held that "if there are likely to be common issues of sufficient significance that their determination would constitute real progress towards the final determination of each claim", then a Court could conclude that a single set of proceedings would be sufficiently convenient. Like London buses, two cases discussing such claims have come along in quick succession.

Morris v Williams & Co Solicitors [2024] EWCA Civ 376

In this case, 134 Claimants issued proceedings against the Defendant solicitors using a single Claim Form. The claim arose out of alleged professional negligence for failure to advise on the risks of investment in 9 development projects (all part of the Northern Powerhouse scheme), specifically the failure to advise on the risks of completion not taking place.

The Defendant solicitors made a strike-out application for abuse of process and/or CPR non-compliance. They argued that Abbott was incorrectly decided, that r.7.3 referred to "Claimant" in the singular, and that "claim" in r.19.1 should be taken to mean "single cause of action" not "proceedings".

The Master of the Rolls, giving the judgment of the Court, dismissed the application, holding that s.6(c) of the Interpretation Act 1978 meant that the singular should be taken to include the plural in r.7.3 and that, following a review of the pre-CPR authorities, there was no requirement for multiple claimants to rely on a single cause of action.

However, the Court also rejected the gloss taken from Abbott of a "real progress" test. The Court made clear that the wording of r.7.3 is simply "conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings". Whilst looking at how proceedings would likely progress and whether determinations on one Claimant would bind others will be relevant factors, the focus should be the wording of the CPR. Here, given the first instance Judge's findings of the common issues between the claims, it was convenient to use a single Claim Form, albeit active case management would be required to avoid unduly prejudicing the Defendant.

Niprose Investments Ltd & Ors v Vincents Solicitors Ltd [2024] EWHC 801 (Ch)

As in Morris, this judgment arose out of a Defendant solicitor's application to strike out a claim in professional negligence by multiple Claimants for an alleged failure to advise on the risks of a property investment scheme. The Claimants had lost substantial upfront payments following off-plan property purchases when the developer went into compulsory liquidation.

Here, Vincents Solicitors were the 10th Defendant in proceedings brought against multiple conveyancers (some solicitors, some other licensed conveyancers), all of whom had advised on the same failed development. Unlike Morris, this judgment focussed less on whether a single Claim Form was justified in this case, as only Vincents had made the present application. However, the Judge did comment that this case stretched the "convenient disposal" test.

Instead, the key issue was the effect of multiple Defendants on the clarity of the pleadings. Whilst the Claimants argued that the pleaded case was sufficiently clear, Vincents argued that the Particulars of Claim disclosed no cause of action against them and that only vague and unparticularised assertions of negligence were made against them specifically.

The Judge accepted Vincents' argument, albeit refused to strike out the claim at this stage. The Particulars of Claim did not sufficiently identify which allegations were being made by which Claimants against Vincents. Of particular importance was that the advice required by a conveyancing solicitor would vary based on the financial sophistication of the client. This was not sufficiently articulated in the Particulars of Claim. Instead of striking the claim out, the Judge gave permission to amend and adjourned the application until after such amendments.


These cases neatly demonstrate the benefits and risks of multi-party Claim Forms in professional negligence cases. Used well, they can enable Claimants to bring claims in a way that minimises costs and can lead to efficient disposal of proceedings. However, as Niprose Investments shows, care must be taken to articulate each Claimant's claim in the pleadings in sufficient detail. Even once this hurdle is overcome, careful and active case management will be required, by the Courts and the Parties, to ensure the aim of "convenient disposal of proceedings" is in fact achieved.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

See More Popular Content From

Mondaq uses cookies on this website. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies as set out in our Privacy Policy.

Learn More