Professional Negligence FAQs

Professional Negligence- What is it?

Professional negligence is the failure to act with the duty of care expected by a reasonable professional in their profession. Duties of care arise by contractual arrangement or by common law tort. The professional must conduct him or her self to the professional standard commonly held by those in their profession.

How can I prove my professional negligence claim?

A successful claim in professional negligence must satisfy three requirements proved on the civil standard of balance of probabilities:

  1. a duty of care was owed by the professional;
  2. the professional breached this duty; and
  3. the breach caused a loss.

How do I initiate proceedings for my professional negligence claim?

A claim starts by following the Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol, which is contained in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

The Pre-Action Protocol contains the framework to be followed and encourages an exchange of information and a set timetable.  

Are there any time limits to bring my professional negligence claim?

Proceedings for professional negligence claims must be brought within time limits, otherwise the claim will be statute barred.

The limitation period is 6 years from the accrual of the cause of action (section 2, Limitation Act 1980). However, if 6 years have passed since the date of negligence but a claimant has only just discovered the effect of latent damage, then the limitation period may be extended to 3 years from the date of knowledge of the material facts (section 14A, Limitation Act 1980).

In any event, legal representation should be sought immediately upon an act of negligence to prevent claims from being time-barred.

What is my professional negligence claim worth?

Damages are awarded in the sum to put the claimant back into the position they would have been in had the breach by the professional not have occurred.

Damages are generally assessed from the date of the breach and any damages that are reasonably foreseeable can be claimed.

Ordinarily a professional will have professional indemnity insurance to ensure any compensation claim can be satisfied. A professional is required to have indemnity insurance if they are a member of professional bodies such as the Law Society or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Who can I bring a professional negligence claim against?

A claim can be brought against any professional- the list is extensive. A professional is an individual or a firm who hold themselves out as having expertise and skill in the services they provide.

We help clients make a successful professional negligence case after receiving bad advice from: solicitors; barristers; financial advisers; licenced conveyancers; accountants; valuers; IFAs; surveyors; architects; builders; tax consultants.

Examples of professional negligence

Establishing professional negligence is more than being given “bad advice”– a claim can be made where a professional fails to perform their responsibilities to the standard expected of them, for example:

  • Lawyers: missed time limits; failure to investigate fundamental evidence; failure to prepare a case with due care; failure to comply with court directions; and providing incorrect legal advice.
  • Financial advisers: failure to advise on the risks of a entering into a financial product; wrongly assessing a client’s attitude towards risk when recommending a (risky) financial product to invest in; and failing to follow instructions provided by a client.
  • Surveyors: failure to discover latent defects such as dry rot, woodworm, a leak; over-valuation of a property; and failure to identify subsidence.
  • Conveyancers: failure to investigate title correctly; failure to discover or warn of restrictive covenants burdening the property; failure to ensure proper planning permissions and building regulations consents obtained.

Is there a defence to professional negligence?

If a claimant suffers damage partly as a result of their own fault, then the court will justly and equitably reduce damages with regard to the claimant’s share in responsibility for the damage. Although contributory negligence is not a complete defence, defendant professionals or their insurers will often allege contributory negligence to reduce the amount of damages payable.

Is there a Pre-action protocol for professional negligence cases?

Both parties are encouraged to attempt to settle the professional negligence claim without issuing formal proceedings in court. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) contains the Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol.

The protocol sets out the framework to be followed and encourages an exchange of information and a set timetable, which both parties must comply with to encourage early settlement without the need for a costly court process.

Will I need to go to court?

Following the protocol, if there is no settlement at this time, then court proceedings would be issued. However, this again is a lengthy process which can take another year prior to its commencement.

As the claimant in this matter you would most likely be called to give evidence along with any other witnesses which we require to provide evidence of the claim. However, most cases are settled prior to this point.

Can I still sue a professional who is now insolvent?

In short yes. Most professionals and businesses in the UK have professional indemnity insurance which can cover compensation claims such as professional negligence.

Will I be able to afford it?

Prior to commencing your claim we can discuss a range of funding options which may be available to you.

Book an Initial Consultation with our Professional Negligence Lawyers

Do you have a claim against a professional? If you want expert legal advice, do not delay in instructing us so we can assess the legal merit of your case.

We can often take on such claims on a no win no fee basis (such as a Conditional Fee Arrangement) once we have discussed the claim with you and then assessed and advised you on the merits of the proposed professional negligence action.

Our expert legal team of leading Professional Negligence Solicitors & Barristers can provide urgent help, advice or representation to you. Just call our Professional Negligence Lawyers on 02071830529 or email us now.

Instruct Specialist Professional Negligence Solicitors

We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers operating from the only law firm based in the Middle Temple Inns of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice. Our team have expertise in advising on claims for compensation against professionals that have fallen below the standard expected, which causes clients financial or personal loss. We are experienced in bringing successful claims against negligent solicitors, barristers, financial advisers, insurance brokers, surveyors, valuers, architects, tax advisers and IFAs.