Professional Negligence

Individuals and businesses often need to use professional services. Solicitors, accountants, financial advisors, or surveyors or valuers give professional advice that their clients rely upon to be accurate. When such advice turns out to be wrong this can cause significant loss and distress. Professional Negligance claims can arise from a number of factors, such as administrative errors, technical or legal errors, or overlooking a client’s best interests.

There are many different ways that individuals or businesses can be suffer as a result of Professional negligence. On selling a property it may come to light that a boundary or other title defect was not dealt with at the time of original purchase, or on the sale of a property a contract plan may be incorrect, resulting in less land being registered than was purchased and this only comes to light on a subsequent sale. A surveyor may have omitted in a survey report to refer to a defect or problem which they ought to have (for example evidence of knotweed).

Alternatively, during a company purchase, an accountant may have given a clean bill of health to the target company which was not justified and the buyer would have either not proceeded with the sale or would have renegotiated the purchase price if they had been advised differently.

Professional Negligence claims can be complex both to pursue and defend. It is always best to seek advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in this area and is familiar with the legal and practical issues that may arise. Any solicitor that takes on such a case will need to be consider whether there has been a breach of a duty of care owed and the extent of any such duty. This will require a detailed analysis of the particular transaction, the scope of the particular retainer or instructions and whether the client was being advised as to a course of action or merely being given information on which to make his or her decision.

There will also need to be consideration as to whether any loss has been caused by the breach of duty (for example it may be said that had correct advice been given the claimant would still have proceeded with the transaction being advised upon), and as to whether there is in fact a loss and if so how should it properly be assessed or valued. There may also be limitation issues to be considered (i.e. is the claim time barred). These are all issues which will require you to be professionally advised whether bringing or defending a claim.

David Osborne, a solicitor in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team, has wide experience of bringing and defending professional negligence claims against a variety of professionals, including solicitors. He regularly works with professional indemnity insurers and is familiar with their attitude to defending and settling claims. He can advise you objectively and fairly on the merits of your claim or defence and any particular difficulties. David can guide you through the process from initial assessment and advice on the merits, to pre-action correspondence and procedure, negotiation of settlement, mediation, and if necessary court proceedings.

If you believe that you may have been given incorrect advice by a professional or if you are a professional facing a claim by a client, please contact David Osborne.