Professional Negligence Solicitors
When you instruct a professional to carry out a task, you have a reasonable expectation that they will fulfil that requirement properly and to a high standard. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen and professionals can neglect their duty of care. In this case, you may be able to bring a professional negligence claim.
What is professional negligence?
Any professional has a duty of care to carry out their instructions in a way that does not cause you or your business harm. When this does not happen, for example, the standard of work did not match what you asked to be done or a mistake was made that had a financial impact on you and your business, it can be classed as professional negligence.
Our professional negligence expertise
Our commercial dispute solicitors have proven expertise in advising businesses on claiming for professional negligence.
We act for clients who are seeking advice on making a claim against various professionals such as:
- Financial advisers
- Insurance brokers
Common examples of professional negligence claims
Although our commercial dispute lawyers advise business owners on a variety of professional negligence claims, some of the most common examples include:
- Solicitors who have given incorrect legal advice or missed deadlines
- Where an Architect has neglected to spot or make you aware of a design flaw that will cost you extra money to put right
- Accountants providing incorrect tax advice
- Where a surveyor fails to notice a defect when inspecting a property, e.g. subsidence
How do I start a professional negligence claim?
If you believe that a professional has breached their duty of care, you may be able to bring a professional negligence claim in contract or tort against them. There may be advantages as to which type of claim you should bring, which is where an expert professional negligence solicitor can help.
Seeking legal advice when considering starting a claim for professional negligence should not be underestimated. An experienced commercial dispute solicitor can advise you on the type of claim, what evidence you need to provide and how the process works.
When starting a professional negligence claim, you must ensure that you comply with the applicable pre-action protocol. This aims to settle the case without the need for court proceedings and includes various steps:
- Preliminary Notice: the Claimant sends the Defendant a letter notifying them that they are starting a claim.
- Letter of Acknowledgement: the Defendant must acknowledge receipt of the preliminary notice within 21 days.
- Letter of Claim: once our solicitors have completed their investigation into the claim, a letter is prepared setting out the details (including financial loss suffered). This is followed by another Letter of Acknowledgement from the Defendant.
- Letter of Response: this sets out the Defendant’s response to the claim and must be provided within three months of the second Letter of Acknowledgement being provided.
- Letter of Settlement: this provides details of any settlement offer the Defendant wishes to make.
Our specialist lawyers can ensure that the protocol is complied with and attempt to reach an early settlement. If the pre-action protocol is followed but an early settlement cannot be reached, we can then advise you on next steps, which may include court proceedings.
What’s the difference between a contract and tort claim?
In a contractual claim, one of the main objectives is to look at what would be deemed as ‘reasonable’ care and skill. This standard may be stated in the contract or implied by statute.
A tort claim looks to establish what a ‘reasonable’ person might expect. More than a mere error must be shown, although it is generally enough to show that another professional would have acted differently.
Where there is a concurrent duty, i.e. both a contractual obligation and a duty in tort, the Claimant can choose whether to bring their action in contract or in tort. One factor that might determine this choice is limitation: the basic limitation period in both contract and tort claims is six years after the final date on which the relevant cause of action accrues. In tort claims, no cause of action accrues until all elements of duty, breach and damage are present. Therefore, if the contract claim is statute-barred, it might be possible to claim for negligence.
How can I prove professional negligence?
When assessing your claim against a professional adviser, our solicitors will need to prove that:
- You were owed a reasonable duty of care
- This duty of care was breached
- You suffered financial loss as a result of that breach
Is there a time limit for making a claim?
The limitation period for professional negligence claims varies on the details of your case, but it is usually six years from the date of neglect.
As with any negligence claim, it is best to seek legal advice sooner rather than later so that the dispute can be settled early on.
Contact our professional negligence solicitors
If you think you have a claim for professional negligence against a professional you have dealt with, our expert commercial dispute solicitors are here to guide you on the next steps.