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Professional Negligence - Your Questions Answered

What is Professional Negligence?

If you have instructed a professional and you are unhappy with the work that they have carried out then you may have a claim against them.  This may be as a result of a breach of their contract to carry out work for you or due to their negligence in failing to advise you properly.  You may have both a contractual and a negligence claim.   

Who is a professional? 

A professional is an individual who holds himself out as providing a service that requires him to exercise skill or expertise.  Often a professional is a member of a professional body or association and there may be rules that govern how they should act.  Examples of professionals are solicitors, surveyors, architects, accountants, letting agents and vets.

Do I have a claim? 

If any of the following apply you may have a claim:

1)      You have been unhappy with the service provided; or

2)      You feel that the professional did not achieve the result that you had been promised or expected; or

3)      You were not warned that a certain outcome could be the result of a particular course of action.

Whether or not you have a claim will depend on what service the professional agreed to provide and what instructions they were given.  A claim may be worth pursuing even if no financial loss has been suffered.  In certain circumstances a claim can be pursued through the professionals governing body which may lead to an award of compensation or to the professional being fined.

Where do I start?

If you think that you may have a claim then you should contact us to discuss it.  It is helpful if you can provide us with copies of correspondence or other documents that relate to the advice you received.

One of the first steps that we will take is to obtain a copy of the professional’s file so that we can consider the content of the file and exchange correspondence with the professional to try to determine whether there is a claim.  We may need to obtain an expert report confirming the value of your claim.  We will also warn the other party to notify their professional indemnity insurers that there is a potential claim.

The Professional Negligence Pre-action Protocol

All claims relating to professional negligence must follow the professional negligence pre-action protocol.  This sets out a series of steps which parties must follow to progress the claim.  By following the protocol the parties will exchange evidence and explore any possibilities of settling the claim.

We will send a letter of claim to the other party or their insurers.  The letter of claim will set out in detail your grievances with the advice they provided and will include an estimate of the amount of money which you are seeking to rectify the issue.

Under the pre-action protocol the other party has three months to respond.  If they fail to respond or fail to satisfactorily respond to the allegations made within this period then we will issue court proceedings. 

How do I fund my claim? 

In some professional negligence claims we can act on a conditional fee agreement (CFA).  This means that you do not have to pay us any fees other than those required to pay disbursements (court fees, expert fees and barrister’s fees).  If your claim is successful we will recover our fees from the other party or their insurer.

 It may be possible for us to arrange after the event insurance “ATE” which safeguards against you having to pay the other parties costs even if the claim is unsuccessful.   

If you would like to speak to a member of the Professional Negligence team please call 01803 202020.