Professional Negligence – Claims Against Solicitors
What is Professional Negligence?
When a client engages a professional to carry out specific tasks for them that they do not have the expertise to carry out themselves, the professional is expected to uphold a high standard and duty of care to the client. In cases where a professional’s work or advice is not up to the standard expected or has acted in a negligent manner and the client ultimately suffers a loss as a result, the client may be entitled to make a claim against the professional.
Generally, to prove professional negligence it must be shown that the standard of work and/or advice the client received was below the standard expected of a person in that professional field and that as a result, the client suffered a loss.
Professional Negligence Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the legal time limit that a person has to bring a claim forward. In the case of professional negligence, the legal time limit is usually 6 years. However, this time limit does vary depending on the complaint that a client has against a professional. It is advisable to speak with a solicitor to discuss your situation so that they can help you in calculating when the clock stops on your case. Any claims that are brought forward after the time limit has run out will be considered ‘statute barred’, meaning that they are no longer claimable.
Professional Negligence and Solicitors
There is a certain standard of care expected of a solicitor towards their clients. For many clients, it is their first time in a legal situation where they need the help of a solicitor and they are placing their trust in them to ensure the desired outcome for their case. Therefore, when a solicitor acts negligently and does not hold the clients best interest at heart it can be particularly damaging to the client on a financial level but also on an emotional and/or physical level. The following are some of the ways in which a solicitor can be held liable for professional negligence:
- Breaches of the rules of the legal profession
- Overcharging / Excessive Fees
- Providing incorrect legal advice
- Failing to give legal advice
- Failure to follow instructions
- Bring a case forward to the wrong court
- Issuing court proceedings to the wrong person
- Missing a legal deadline/failure to issue court proceedings on time
- Proceeding to act for a client when the solicitor’s interests conflict with that of the client
- Negligent delays in case management
- Delays in the exchange of contracts
- Losing important documents
- Unauthorised use of a client’s cash
- Failing to keep proper accounts
Examples of Solicitor Professional Negligence
Personal Injury Solicitor Negligence *
A personal injury solicitor may be held liable for negligence in cases where they have caused unnecessary delays in a person’s claim leading to the claim to be statute barred (i.e. ignoring the personal injury claim time limits) or in cases where they have advised a person to settle a claim for much lower than what the claim is actually worth to the client.
Litigation Solicitor Negligence
A solicitor may be held liable in cases where they have fails to carry out court procedures, meet court dates or fails to follow instruction leading to the client’s case being lost.
Wills and Probate Solicitor Negligence
A wills and probate solicitor may be held liable in cases where they make a will that does not coincide with the clients wishes and a loss occurs.
Conveyancing Solicitor Negligence
A conveyancing solicitor may be held liable for negligence when they are buying or selling a property and makes a mistake when dealing with a property transaction such as losing title deeds or other mistakes that cause a delay in the transaction leading to a loss for the client.
Commercial Solicitor Negligence
A commercial solicitor dealing with a business as a client may be held liable for negligence in cases where they have failed to notice a clause in a contract that will negatively affect the client leading to a loss or if they fail to advise a client correctly in a business transaction or business deal which leads to a loss for the client. In debt recovery, a solicitor may be held liable if they issue legal proceedings and serve the wrong person with a summons leading to delays and losses for the client.
Making a Claim
Tracey Solicitors is part of the Law Society’s Negligence Panel and are on hand to assist you if you have been subject to professional negligence by a solicitor. We understand people may be reluctant to engage a new solicitor especially after a bad experience with another, but we assure you that with our 30 years’ experience, advanced case management system and a team of dedicated solicitors and legal executives with client care at the forefront of their mind that you can trust Tracey’s to help you resolve your case as quick and efficiently as possible.