If you have instructed a professional to do something on your behalf, and they fail to do so, or do so in a way which is sub-standard; and in either circumstances you suffer financial loss, you may have grounds to bring a claim for professional negligence.
To bring a professional negligence claim for compensation, it’s necessary to establish that the professional in question owed you what’s commonly known as a ‘duty of care’. This is a duty to act in a way that a reasonable person in the same profession would have acted.
It’s important to note that incorrect advice may not be negligent advice, and that negligence that has not directly caused financial loss will not give rise to a claim. Further, potential claimants will be expected to take steps to limit any financial losses caused by negligence, and may find that any actions they take or fail to take, which increase the effect of any negligence, could be used against them in any later professional negligence proceedings.
As can be seen from the above, claims against professionals such as lawyers, surveyors, accountants, financial advisors and architects can be complicated, so it’s important at the outset to take detailed legal advice from somebody who understands the law of professional negligence.
Farleys Top tips
The professional negligence team at Farleys has many years’ experience in handling claims of this type. We’ve collated a list of our top tips to consider at the outset:
1. Keep good records
It’s always sensible when taking professional advice to make a note of what you have been advised and any course of action recommended. You should also keep hold of any letters of advice, emails, quotes, reports or any documents that relate to the matter you are unhappy about.
2. Raise a complaint
If you feel you may have grounds to make a claim, it’s sensible to raise a complaint in the first instance. It’s a good idea to set out your complaint in writing, and comply with any complaints procedure in place. Feel free to include copies of relevant documents to support of your complaint, but keep hold of any originals. If your complaint is not handled to your satisfaction, it’s worthwhile finding out if the professional is governed by a professional body or regulator, and whether there is an ombudsman that you can refer the matter to.
3. Obtain your file
Ask the professional for your file of documents – this may contain important evidence to support a potential case. However, some professionals (such as lawyers) will be entitled to retain your file until you pay any outstanding bills, so check any contract or terms and conditions to see whether this is the case.
4. Act quickly
Don’t put off raising your complaint, or taking legal advice. Legal claims are subject to time limits, and if you leave things too late, the passage of time may prevent you from bringing a claim.
5. Speak to an expert
If you believe you may have a claim, or just need some initial advice, it’s sensible to speak to a solicitor with experience of professional negligence claims at the outset.
If you would like advice on a professional negligence matter, or to discuss raising a complaint against a professional, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our professional negligence solicitors. Our solicitors are members of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association (PNLA).