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Bringing a claim against a professional for negligence.

If you have received poor, incorrect or inappropriate advice from a professional such as an architect, engineer, solicitor or accountant you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.  You can claim for any financial loss caused by the negligence. This is known as a claim for professional negligence.

What you will need to show to sue your solicitor

There must be a breach of duty

To be successful with a claim you will need to show a breach of the duty of care; it is not enough to simply be unhappy with how the outcome.

Professional negligence is defined as a breach of the duty of care between professionals and their clients. The duty of care is the level of professionalism and standard of care one would expect from those holding themselves out in the position.

One of the most common errors made by solicitors is a failure to stick to the time restraints placed upon them. A failure to comply with court deadlines can lead to claims and actions being struck out. This will almost certainly be regarded as professional negligence. Another example may be where your structural engineer has put together incorrect calculations for your extension.

The breach must have caused you loss

If there is no loss, or the loss is capable of being rectified without any cost to you then you are unlikely to be successful in bringing a professional negligence claim.

The advice must be relevant to the profession

There must be a link between the advice and the professional providing the advice. If your dentist was to mention in passing that you may be able to bring a claim in relation to an injury that led to the dental work, they cannot be held accountable if no such claim exists. Likewise if your solicitor failed to advise you to go and see your dentist they cannot be sued if you later develop a dental condition.

How long do you have to bring a claim?

Claims for professional negligence are either based on breach of contract or negligence. You have six years from the date of the breach or the act of negligence. This is known as the primary limitation period.  If the negligence is not discovered until after the initial six-year period, it may be possible to bring a claim during the secondary limitation period, being three years from the date of knowledge of the breach or act of negligence.

Does it cost to bring a professional negligence claim?

If your claim has reasonable prospects of success (51% chance or more) then most solicitors will deal with your claim on a no win-no fee basis subject to undertaking a risk assessment. This means that, if you comply with the terms and conditions of your instructions, you won’t be charged for the work done on your behalf if the claim is unsuccessful (save for disbursements).

Most firms will ask for a non-refundable payment to cover the cost of an initial review of any existing documents relating to the claim.

If you or a friend or family member feel that they may have a claim for professional negligence get in touch with our disputes department on 0113 224 7808 or disputes@cohencramer.co.uk

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