Professional negligence is a broad term. In brief, however, it means that a professional person has failed to conduct the agreed work to the expected reasonable standard required of them. To make a claim, you will also need to show that you have suffered damage or a direct financial loss as a result of the negligence.
When establishing whether or not there is a claim for professional negligence there are various factors to be considered. For example, if you are intending to bring a claim against your former solicitor you will need to consider what type of client you are. Solicitors are expected to take greater care and will have a broader duty with inexperienced clients when compared to regular business clients.
Who can I make a professional negligence claim against?
A professional is someone who has expertise and skills in the service they are delivering. This includes solicitors, barristers, surveyors, builders, engineers, financial advisors and many more. If you are not sure whether you are entitled to bring a professional negligence claim against someone, we strongly advise that you speak to a specialist professional negligence solicitor as soon as possible. There is a time limit on bringing professional negligence claims, and it is therefore important that you see a solicitor as soon as you can.
What would constitute professional negligence?
An issue with the professional’s service would not be enough to bring a professional negligene claim against them. Of course, different professionals have different responsibilities, but general examples of professional negligence include:
- Incorrect advice given, meaning that you lose out financially.
- A professional giving you advice that it outside their area of expertise
- Poor drafting of a legal document (such as a will or court document), rendering it invalid or otherwise causing you loss.
- Failure to file a document before a deadline (e.g. a tax return or court document)
- Over- or undervaluing an asset or property
I didn’t pay for the advice, can I still make a claim?
The Court of Appeal looked at this in 2017 and concluded that in that case, even though the Claimants had not paid for the advice, the Defendant still owed the Claimants a duty of care. Therefore, she was still liable in professional negligence. This case was about an architect, but would equally apply to other professions. For more information about this case (Lejonvarn v Burgess), please see our earlier blog.
Can I make a claim against a professional?
To be able to successfully bring a claim for professional negligence, you will need to establish the following; –
- The professional owed you a duty of care
- The professional breached that duty
- And as a result of that breach, you lost out financially (known as ‘causation’).
Without these three elements, your claim is unlikely to succeed.
In such cases, the aim is to put you back in the position you would have been if negligence had not occurred.
If you are considering bringing a claim for professional negligence you must be aware that this could be a lengthy process. Your solicitor will carefully consider all the available evidence before advising you on the prospect of your claim and the potential amount of damages.
Your solicitor will be required to comply with Pre–Action Protocol for Professional Negligence. This is a procedure that parties follow to attempt to resolve professional negligence claims without going to court. Failure to comply with the Pre-Action Protocol can adversely affect your claim and there may be costs consequences.
The first step of the Protocol is for the claimant to send a letter of claim, setting out their case. The defendant professional then has three months to investigate and respond.
If you think you may have a claim against a professional, our specialist team can help. Call us today on 0800 988 7756 for a FREE initial discussion.