Pensioner in court battle with legal profession: Woman, aged 77, sues Law Society in unprecedented case alleging conspiracy. Heather Mills reports

THE FRAIL figure of Peggy Wood, 77, yesterday took on the legal profession single-handedly in an unprecedented High Court battle which could have major implications for all self-regulating businesses and bodies.

Miss Wood, living in a council bedsit on income support, is suing the Law Society, the solicitors' regulatory body, over the loss of her cottage home and land 10 years ago.

She is alleging that the Law Society failed to properly investigate her complaint of misconduct against the solicitors involved in her eviction in 1983. She also claims Law Society officers conspired to 'injure' her cause by leaking confidential material in breach of the Society's duty of confidentiality.

Miss Wood is having to conduct her own proceedings because her legal aid was withdrawn last year and she cannot afford a barrister. The Law Society, which is strongly contesting her allegations, is represented by two counsel.

But if Miss Wood succeeds it will be the first time a regulatory body has been ruled to owe a duty of care and damages to members of the public who suffer loss because of mishandling of complaints. The case could have implications for bodies as diverse as the General Medical Council and City institutions. Yesterday, in recognition of its public importance, Mr Justice Otton ordered that the Official Solicitor enter the case to assist on the law.

The affair goes back 20 years and centres on the advice Miss Wood received from solicitors, Hubbard and Co, of Chichester, West Sussex. She alleges that they wrongly acted for both sides when they arranged loans for her to develop her land. She also claims they failed to tell her that one loan was supplied by a company, Mobile Homes (Borden) Ltd, which was part-owned by Joseph Hubbard - husband of the partner who acted for Miss Wood.

When, because of delays with planning consent, Miss Wood failed to meet the payments, a writ was issued on behalf of Mobile Homes after Hubbard and Co had said they could no longer represent Miss Wood.

After court battles, she was evicted, the house sold and she went to a Salvation Army hostel, left with pounds 1,400 after her debts were paid. After modernisation and development, the property eventually resold for nearly pounds 200,000.

After initially refusing to entertain her complaints, the Law Society eventually issued a reprimand to Mrs Hubbard. Miss Wood says this was an inadequate sanction following an insufficient inquiry which came too late - after she had been evicted.

She left court with one initial victory. Because she is hard of hearing, in poor health, and is unable to follow the complicated legal argument in the case, the judge agreed an unpaid 'friend' - Ole Hanson, a solicitor, journalist, and law lecturer - could help argue and cross-examine. Normally 'friends' are restricted to note-taking.

Miss Wood is staying in a London hotel for the two-week hearing - funded by the Wrens Benevolent Fund. Miss Wood was a Wren during the last war 'fighting for a free country in which you are supposed to get justice', she said.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game