Through life, it is often necessary to call upon the expertise and services of professionals, such as solicitors, accountants, surveyors, architects and financial advisers. When you engage such a professional, he/she owes you a ‘duty of care’, a duty to provide their advice and their services at an appropriate standard.
Unfortunately, there are times when the advice and services provided by such a professional (or organisation) falls below the standard you are entitled to expect from them, often costing you and/or your business time and money.
Whilst it is part and parcel of life that people make mistakes, when a professional makes a mistake (for example, gives incorrect/inaccurate advice, misses a deadline or carries out his/her work to a standard below what is expected) this may result in you incurring financial loss. In such a situation, you have a recourse against such professionals by way of a Professional Negligence claim. This is a claim made against the professional which will allege the shortcomings in that professional’s advice or work, claiming the losses you have suffered as a result of the alleged negligence.
In most cases such a professional will have the benefit of a Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy which will cover the eventuality of a professional being found to have been negligent and you being awarded damages as a result of such negligence. In many cases you will therefore be claiming against the insured’s policy and you will be dealing with the insurer/the solicitors nominated by the insurer.
Before commencing a claim, a letter should be sent to the negligent professional setting out full details of your claim and the financial losses (and any other damage) you have suffered by reason of the negligent advice/act. You should not commence a claim until such a letter known as a ‘Letter Before Action’ has been sent as to do so may have adverse costs consequences. These could include you not recovering your costs or being ordered to pay some of the opponent’s costs. Once sent, the professional/his insurers will have a defined period (usually a maximum of 3 months from the date of first acknowledging the Letter Before Action) in which to fully respond, setting out their position.
If the alleged negligence or the amount of your claim is denied, you will need to bring a claim in the courts against the professional (and effectively their insurers). In doing so, you will be required to demonstrate that the professional performed his/her job below the standard expected of a professional in their industry and that as a result of that negligence you have suffered a loss. It is not enough to prove negligence if there is no loss because the principle of damages is to compensate you for a loss. Ultimately, if your claim is successful, you will be compensated for your financial loss (including a proportion of the legal costs you spend to pursue your claim against the professional).
If you or your business believe you have suffered from negligent advice or work, our dispute resolution team can advise you in relation to your proposed claim and take the necessary action on your behalf.