Maybe you've wondered whether a claim for legal
malpractice can be assigned. Maybe you haven't. But yesterday, the North
Carolina Court of Appeals answered that question. In Revolutionary
Concepts, Inc. v. Clements Walker PLLC [an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com
subscribers], the Court held that "malpractice claims are not
assignable in North Carolina." Op. at 10.
Why not? A cascade of horribles might result if
they were assignable. The concerns noted by the COA were:
the potential for a conflict of interest, the compromise
of confidentiality, and the negative effect assignment would have on the
integrity of the legal profession and the administration of justice.
Op. at 9.
Malpractice claims now fit in a broad category of
personal injury claims which are not assignable, like "claims for
defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution or conspiracy to injure another's
business, unfair and deceptive trade practices and conspiracy to commit
fraud." Op. at 8.
If the name of the case sounds familiar, that's because
it was a Business Court case which you've read
about before on this blog.
And don't think that this result represents a win for the
law firm involved. The COA reversed a 2010
Order from the Business Court holding that the firm's individual client had
assigned away his malpractice claim to a corporate Plaintiff and that he
therefore had no standing to bring the malpractice claim.
Read other articles on the North Carolina Business
Litigation Report, a blog for lawyers focusing on issues of North Carolina
business law and the day-to-day practice of business litigation in North