Hacker Young paid out £1m over negligent advice

HACKER YOUNG paid out £1m because of negligence in failing to inform the owner of Pontins he could be treated as non-domiciled, a court case has revealed.

Alex Langsam, who owns 35 hotels and this year bought the Pontins chain, was given the confidential settlement in 2006. Langsam claimed that Hacker Young – now UHY Hacker Young – had been negligent in failing to advise him that he was entitled to be treated as non-domiciled and that should have sought advice from the then Inland Revenue. If he had received this advice, he said, he would have moved money off-shore, which would have entitled him to tax relief.

Langsam said that he should have been advised about his non-domicile status by the partner at Hacker Young, Michael Grundy, in 1993, when he raised the issue of his father’s place of birth in Austria. In another claim he said that at the very least he should have been informed in 1996, when HY took over as his personal accountants. It was only in 1999 that he was confirmed as non-domiciled by the Inland Revenue following discussions with other accountants.

Hacker Young settled for £1m in 2006. Although the firm never admitted liability in the case, Justice Roth said: “It was not seriously in issue that HY were negligent as from the commencement of their personal retainer by Mr Langsam in March 1996.”

The Hacker Young settlement came to light following action brought by Langsam against his solicitors, Beachcroft LLP, in November 2010. Langsam claimed that he could have recovered £3m in proceedings against HY, either at trial or by way of enhanced settlement. Justice Roth said there were too many imponderables to verify this claim.

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