Professional Negligence

What is professional negligence?

When you instruct a professional adviser to carry out work for you, they have a duty to do that work to a reasonable standard and with reasonable care. This means that they should provide their services to the standard you would be entitled to expect from a reasonably competent specialist in a similar profession.

If the professional you have instructed fails to deliver their services to this level, then you may well have a claim for professional negligence. If you consider that the service provided was below the expected standard then it is important to seek early advice on the merits of your claim.
To find out where you stand, I am happy to make an initial review of your case at no cost to you.

How do I know if I have a claim?

Receiving poor service doesn’t necessarily mean you have a claim. For a successful claim you need to establish that your professional adviser owed you a duty of care, the adviser breach that duty of care and as a result of that breach you have suffered a loss. If you have not suffered a loss then you will have no claim.

What’s my claim worth?

You can only claim if the loss suffered was as a direct result of your professional adviser’s negligence. The general rule is that damages (the value of your claim) will be assessed as at the date of the adviser’s negligence. Damages are then awarded to put you back in the position that you would have been if you hadn’t suffered as a result of the negligence of your adviser.

It is important to remember that you must not take any action to increase the level of your loss. Your professional adviser, if negligent, will also expect you to take reasonable steps to mitigate the size of your loss. In some cases your professional adviser might also argue that you contributed to the loss. Failure to mitigate your losses can impact on the value of your claim.
Which is why that it is essential that you seek early legal advice.

How do I start a professional negligence claim?

You will need to provide full details of your claim, together with any supporting documents. We can then make an initial assessment of your claim, without any cost to you. If it appears that there is a reasonable prospect of success, we will then (once agreed with you) write a letter of claim to your professional adviser.

All claims for professional negligence are governed by a procedure known as the Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol (“the Protocol”). The Protocol has been designed to try and avoid court proceedings. The parties are encouraged to exchange information relating to the claim and try to achieve a resolution. Under the Protocol a letter of claim is sent to the professional adviser who has 21 days to acknowledge receipt. Then a further 3 months in which to review and respond to the claim. Such response will be to admit the claim and make settlement proposals, or deny liability for negligence. If liability is denied then the next option is to start legal action.

For a Free Case Assessment

Whether you or your business is involved in a dispute the first thing you will think about is whether or not your claim or defence has any merit.

How long will my claim take?

The length of the case will depend on the response from your professional adviser. Once we have sent the letter of claim your professional adviser has just under 4 months to either admit or dispute the claim. Some claims can be settled within this time whereas other more complex cases which have to go to court or where the assessment of loss is complicated will take between 12-18 months or longer.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Our advice is to make the claim as soon as possible. This is because the facts of the case and the recollection of events will still be clear.

The actual legal position is that you have up to 6 years from the date of negligence to bring a claim. This deadline can be extended where you only just become aware of the facts, which lead you to realise that your professional adviser was potentially negligent. In this case you have 3 years from the date of that realisation to bring a claim.

Will my claim end up in court?

The vast majority of professional negligence cases are resolved without the need to start court proceedings. Even when proceedings have started the parties will often continue to try and negotiate a settlement. If the case cannot be settled then you will need to attend court together with any witnesses who support your claim.

What will it cost me to bring a claim?

Our initial assessment of your claim will be made without charge to you. In many cases we are prepared to offer “NO WIN NO FEE” agreement. This might be by what is called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) or a Damages Based Agreement (DBA).

We firmly believe that if we tell you that you have a decent case then we should put our money where our mouth is and share the risks with you. We can also agree to defer fees or charge on a standard hourly basis, if you so wish.

Details of all our funding options are set out on our Litigation Funding page.

Can you make the claim yourself?

The simple answer is yes you can. There is no reason why you cannot pursue the claim yourself. However, the law and procedure around professional claims are complex and in order to maximise the amount of damages you receive we recommend you discuss your claim with us, or another professional.

Can I claim for poor service?

Poor service in itself may not mean that you have a claim for professional negligence. In most cases the professional adviser will have an internal complaints procedure, which should be used.

If you remain unhappy about the response a complaint can be made to the body that regulates the profession. In the case of accountants it is the ICAEW, for architects it is the RIBA, for solicitors it is the Legal Ombudsman and for surveyors it is the RICS.

Can you speak to us to sound initially things out?

Yes, please do. We understand that the legal procedures around professional negligence claims can be complex and off-putting. Which is why we invite you to contact us to check if the circumstances of your dispute could result in a successful claim being made.

Our initial assessment of your case will be free of charge and we will let you know the likelihood of a successful outcome there and then.

We Offer a Free Case Assessment

Whether you or your business is involved in a dispute the first thing you will think about is whether or not your claim or defence has any merit.

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What our customers say

DR Legal worked meticulously through my difficult conveyancing negligence case in order to ensure I received the best outcome. Over a very long period of time David Mackenzie kept me fully informed of the ever changing situation and offered sound advice and guidance throughout. David offered an extremely professional and no nonsense approach to my case which ultimately resulted in a very good outcome and case resolution.

Mr B