Professional negligence FAQ

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There is evidence that professional negligence claims are very much on the rise – cases brought by solicitors against other solicitors, for example, have gone up by 55% since 2012/13. But how much do you know about professional negligence and the process of initiating a claim?

Below, we taken the time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is professional negligence?

Although negligence claims are often said to be claims for "bad advice", professional negligence is broader than this, arising when a professional does not fulfil his or her responsibilities to the standard required.

A solicitor may be said to have committed professional negligence, for example, if they miss a vital time limit or fail to give proper advice on a settlement offer.

What professionals can I make a claim against?

The definition of a professional for the purposes of a negligence claim is someone who is considered to possess particular skills and expertise in the services that they provide.

This means that theoretically at least, any professional - such as a solicitor, surveyor, barrister, engineer, builder, financial advisor, IT professional or accountant - could have a claim brought against them.

How can I determine whether I have a claim?

You may wish to pursue a claim against a professional for various reasons, such as dissatisfaction with the provided service or not receiving the result or outcome expected based on the advice that the professional gave you.

However, your claim won't be successful unless you can demonstrate that the professional involved owed you a duty of care and breached that duty of care in a way that resulted in a loss to you.

A professional is not necessarily guilty of negligence simply because they made a mistake or provided a poor service. It will need to be demonstrated that the services the professional provided fell short of a reasonably competent professional's standards, with regard to the standards that would be expected in their profession.

How much money can I claim for?

You can claim for any financial losses that you directly suffered as a result of the negligence, with the damages being sufficient to put you in the position that you would have been in if the negligence had not occurred.