Professional Negligence

Professional Rip-Off?

In today’s high-tech, highly-specialised world, we are more reliant than ever on professionals to provide us with advice that we must rely on fully, because frankly, most of the time we have no clue about the particular issue or area they are advising us on.

But what happens when they get it wrong and end up costing us money, customers and/or our professional reputation?

Fortunately, you can claim damages and cases against professionals are becoming more common as our world becomes more specialised.

What constitutes professional negligence?

Professional negligence occurs when a professional person fails to perform their duties to the required standard.

If you engage a professional such as a lawyer, architect or accountant to do work for you, they have a duty to perform that work to an acceptable standard.  If they fail to do so and you suffer damage as a result, then you may be entitled to compensation.

How is a ‘professional’ defined in law?

A professional is a person considered to have particular expertise and skills in the services they provide.  The list is extensive and can include:

  • doctors 
  • lawyers
  • IT professionals
  • surveyors
  • architects
  • engineers
  • financial advisors
  • insurance brokers

What do I need to prove to make a successful claim?

To bring a successful claim in negligence, you need to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that a professional person, who owed you a duty of care, breached that duty which in turn caused you to suffer loss.

Does bad service constitute negligence?

No, bad service is generally not enough to constitute negligence. You will need to demonstrate that the services provided by the professional fell below the standards of a reasonably competent professional, having regard to the standards normally expected in his profession. The test is objective but its application turns on the facts of each case.

How long do I have to bring a claim of professional negligence?

Generally, you have six years from the date of the of the negligence.  If the damage from the negligence only becomes apparent much later, this time can be extended at the Court’s discretion.

Best practice is to contact a solicitor as soon as you consider bringing a claim for professional negligence.

How does the process for making a professional negligence claim work?

Unless the time limit for bringing a claim is about to expire, the ‘Professional Negligence Pre- Action Protocol’ should be followed. 

Designed to encourage early settlement (so the case does not reach Court), the Professional Negligence Pre- Action Protocol sets out a framework for the exchange of information and working towards early settlement.

This process involves the claimant sending a Letter of Claim to the professional which should set out the factual and legal basis for the claim, allegations against the professional, losses claimed and include any key documents relied upon.  This letter must be acknowledged within 21 days of receipt.  The professional then has three months to investigate the allegation and provide a Letter of Response.  This will either admit the claim and offer a settlement or dispute the claim.

Is there any duty on the claimant to mitigate losses?

Yes, if you fail to take steps to mitigate the losses suffered from the professional’s negligence, then the Court will refuse to compensate you for the losses you did not prevent which could leave you severely out of pocket.

If you believe you have a claim in professional negligence, you can find an expert solicitor on Solicitors Guru today.

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