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Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Professional Negligence

What is Professional Negligence?

Professional negligence occurs when a solicitor, barrister, accountant, financial advisor, vet, surveyor or architect who provides a service fails to meet the appropriate standard of care and skill. This can be in relation to services provided to an individual or a business.

Unfortunately, the work carried out by professionals can sometimes fall below the standard that is to be reasonably expected. This can lead to financial losses being suffered. These losses can be recovered in a professional negligence claim.

What do I need to show to have a claim?

In order to bring a successful professional negligence claim it is necessary to establish the following:

  • You were owed a duty of care by the professional
  • The professional breached that duty
  • The breach of duty by the professional has caused you to suffer a direct financial loss

What losses can be recovered?

This will depend in large part on what the professional was doing for you and what losses were caused by their error or omission. Awards of compensation (also referred to as damages) can include loss of profits, mental distress, loss in value of an asset, costs of reinstatement and loss of management time.

It should be noted that you ought to take all reasonable steps to minimise or reduce your loss. You should not take any action or refrain from any action that is likely to increase your level of loss. Any increased level of loss that could have been reasonably avoided will not be recoverable.

How do I make a professional negligence claim?

There is a Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol, which sets out the initial steps to follow. This includes sending a formal letter of claim setting out the duty owed, the breach that occurred and the losses sustained. The professional or their insurer has a set time to respond.  The parties are expected to exchange information and evidence and to consider steps to try and settle the case without the need for court proceedings. In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain expert evidence to support the losses claimed.

Court proceedings are necessary in some cases. Experience tells us that about 95% of cases settle before a final trial.

Do I need to instruct a solicitor?

You do not have to instruct a solicitor, but it is usually sensible to do so. Professional negligence claims are often complex and time consuming. The success of a case will very much depend on the way in which a claim is presented and pursued.

How long will it take?

There is no one answer, every case is different. The pre-action protocol period is 3 months and some cases will settle in that period. Most cases conclude within 12 months however a strongly disputed claim may take considerably longer to resolve.

What should I do next?

If you have been let down by a professional and would like to speak to us, free of charge or commitment, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer McGuinness on 01928 739300 or jennifer.mcguinness@fdrlaw.co.uk