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, 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.