Professionals such as accountants, financial advisors, architects, surveyors and solicitors have a duty to practice their specialism with reasonable skill and care. Where a professional has fallen short in this duty, this can be grounds for a claim for professional negligence.
When an allegation of professional negligence has been made, unpicking exactly what went wrong and how the law applies in the particular circumstances isn’t always straightforward. These cases are often won or lost either on the minutiae contained within documentary evidence, or the analysis of court appointed experts.
At Saunders Law, our Commercial Litigation team acts for both claimants and defendants in . We have vast experience of the law and procedure relevant to these often-complex cases and can assist with matters including:
- Assessing whether professionals have been negligent
- Making professional negligence claims
- Defending professional negligence claims
- Seeking out of court settlements for professional negligence
- Pursuing & defending professional negligence claims in court
Our clients rely on our sensible and pragmatic advice to find effective resolutions, as well as for using our vigorous advocacy skills. Whether bringing or defending against a professional negligence claim, we offer a swift assessment of the issues you are facing and will also be transparent about the costs involved and the funding options available.
Our commercial litigation solicitors attract enquiries from all over the world due to our reputation, but we can only act for you or your organisation if we both agree we are the fit for you.
Operating from offices facing the High Court in central London, we are ideally located to guide and defend clients in London and across England and Wales in relation to professional negligence claims.
Find out more about the firm, its teams and its typical work by taking a look at our clients.
Speak to our professional negligence solicitors in London
For expert assistance with making or defending a professional negligence claim, contact Saunders Law today for a free, no obligation initial discussion of how we may be able to help.
Why Saunders Law is the smart choice for professional negligence claims
More than 40 years’ experience
At Saunders Law, our partner-led team of dedicated commercial litigation solicitors have over 40 years of knowledge and experience. This makes us perfectly equipped to offer clear, sensible and effective assistance with making and defending professional negligence claims.
Independently recognised expertise
Commercially minded approach to match our clients’ priorities
We plan our approach around our clients’ circumstances and priorities. With strong skills in negotiating out-of-court settlements and exceptional experience with court litigation, our professional negligence solicitors are always guided by our clients’ commercial considerations.
Exceptional personal service & client satisfaction
We pride ourselves on providing an exceptional service. Our clients will always receive a call back the same day following an enquiry and can always speak to one of our partners when required. As a result, we consistently achieve excellent feedback from clients.
Examples of our successful handling of professional negligence claims
Our successful professional negligence claims work includes:
- Advising a local branch of a national charity in relation to a defectively built swimming pool enclosure
- Advising a large property ownership and development company in relation to a dilapidations claim negligently settled by surveyors
- Advising a large commercial organisation in relation to negligently given accounting advice
Types of professional negligence claims we handle
Our expertise includes claims against a wide range of professionals, including (but not limited to):
Professional negligence claims against accountants
We can assist with professional negligence claims against accountants for matters such as:
- Failure to file tax returns on time
- Calculating PAYE incorrectly
- Providing negligent tax advice
Professional negligence claims against surveyors
We can assist with professional negligence claims against surveyors for matters such as:
- Negligent failure to notice or report property defects
- Incorrectly valuing a property
- Incorrectly valuing the cost of remedial works to a property
Professional negligence claims against architects
We can assist with professional negligence claims against architects for matters such as:
- Failure to prepare suitable construction drawings and/or specifications
- Failure to provide effective on-site supervision for a construction
- Approving and certifying substandard or inappropriate works
Professional negligence claims against solicitors
We can assist with professional negligence claims against solicitors for matters such as:
- Incorrectly drafting a Will or other documents
- Missing a key deadline
- Failure to note or rectify an issue with a contract
Professional negligence claims against insurance brokers
We can assist with professional negligence claims against insurance brokers for matters such as:
- Failure to properly advise on the conditions of an insurance policy
- Failure to secure an agreed policy
- Failure to disclose on an insurance application an issue of which the client had made the broker aware
Professional negligence claims against financial advisers
We can assist with professional negligence claims against financial advisers for matters such as:
- Failure to properly warn of the risks associated with particular investments
- Failure to establish whether a client can afford a particular product
- Failure to disclose a conflict of interest
Professional negligence claims against engineers
We can assist with professional negligence claims against engineers for matters such as:
- Errors in designs, drawings or calculations
- Failure to properly supervise agreed works
- Failure to properly inspect works resulting in substandard or inappropriate work being carried out
How our team can assist with professional negligence claims
Bringing a Professional Negligence Claim
If a professional owed you a duty of care but breached that duty and caused you to suffer loss, the law entitles you to a remedy. Establishing these and other elements is vital if a professional negligence claim is to succeed, requiring a detailed and thorough investigation into all the aspects of the case.
The claim must also meet strict procedural requirements, including adhering to strict time limits, procedures and protocols. We can assist with all these matters and guide you through the entire claims process, ensuring you get the professional negligence compensation you are entitled to.
Defending Against a Professional Negligence Claim
If you are accused of breaching professional standards in respect of a service you have provided, it’ll be necessary to robustly defend against unfounded claims in order to protect your reputation and professional standing.
We regularly help professionals challenge professional negligence claims, helping them to test the cogency of allegations made against them and demonstrate that they met the necessary standard of care.
We also use our expert negotiating skills to assist professionals explore the possibility of settlement and can also help if professional disciplinary proceedings are running concurrently.
Our approach to professional negligence claims
Evaluating the merits of a professional negligence claim
Our professional negligence solicitors have the specialist expertise to quickly identify whether professional negligence is likely to have occurred for both potential claimants and professionals who find themselves accused of negligence.
By establishing whether a claim or potential claim has merit at an early stage, it can allow the parties to take a pragmatic approach based on a realistic understanding of whether a claim is likely to succeed, the costs involved, the potential financial implications of success or failure, and the probability of professional negligence compensation being awarded.
Out of court settlements for professional negligence
It is often in both parties’ interests to reach a voluntary settlement for a professional negligence claim. Our team can assist with setting out the facts of the matter in a firm ‘letter before action’, which should also set out what resolution the claimant is looking to achieve.
Where there is the need for negotiation, we can provide advice and representation for round the table discussions, commercial mediation and arbitration, all of which can be much faster, less costly and less acrimonious than taking matters to court. This can also keep the matter private, helping to protect reputations.
Find out more about our Alternative Dispute Resolution services.
Court proceedings for professional negligence
Where an out of court settlement cannot be agreed, our litigation solicitors will tirelessly fight for our clients through every stage of court proceedings. Court litigation is an area in which our team excels, with our professional negligence solicitors having exceptional advocacy skills and an excellent track record of success in proceedings all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Professional negligence claims explained
What is professional negligence?
In essence, this is where a professional provides a substandard service resulting in a loss to their client. Whether a service is merely bad or negligent can be difficult to determine, so it is essential to seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
How can you prove professional negligence?
To be eligible for professional negligence compensation, a claimant will need to show that the three following conditions have been met:
- The professional in question owed you a duty of care.
- This duty of care was breached.
- This caused you to experience a loss (usually financial).
Providing that these conditions apply will typically rely on various pieces of evidence, such as any contract made between the claimant and the professional, correspondence between the parties and testimony from independent experts in the same field.
What is the limitation period for professional negligence?
The professional negligence limitation period can vary depending on the specific circumstances, but for most claims, the claimant will have 6 years from the date the negligence occurred.
However, if the claimant only later discovers the advice or service they received was negligent, they will have 3 years to claim from this ‘date of knowledge’. There is an absolute cut-off date to bring a claim of 15 years from the date the negligence occurred.
What sort of professionals can I make a claim against?
There is no definitive list or strict definition of which sorts of professionals one can make a negligence claim against. The general rule is that they will be someone upon whose specialist knowledge, skills and experience the claimant has relied on in order to make a decision with financial implications.
It is more likely that someone would be able to bring a claim against people with professional qualifications or accreditation and/or who are subject to a regulatory body (such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority for solicitors). However, this should not be taken as definitive and you should always take legal advice for your specific circumstances.
How much compensation can you claim for professional negligence?
The amount of professional negligence compensation a claimant can receive will be based on the level of loss the client is deemed to have experienced due to the negligence that occurred. The basic principle is that the damages awarded should ‘put things right’ i.e. get the client back to the position they would have been in had the negligence never occurred.
Should a court find that the client shares some degree of responsibility for the losses and the professional is only partially responsible, this will be reflected in the level of damages awarded. In other words, if the court decides that each party is 50% responsible for the losses, the damages awarded will be equal to 50% of the losses the client experienced.
What are some examples of professional negligence?
Some examples of professional negligence could be:
- A patent attorney advising an inventor to apply for a patent application that infringes upon an already existing patent.
- An architect who changed the design for a home and built it according to the new design without consulting the client.
- A financial advisor losing a client’s pension through bad investments.
How do I know if I have a claim for professional negligence?
Knowing whether the instructed professional breached their duty of care is difficult. It’s likely the potential claimant has a belief that the service they received was not up to the standard they expected but that doesn’t mean they will be able to bring a successful claim.
The only way to know for sure whether a claim will be successful is to seek out the advice of a professional negligence solicitor and have them look over the evidence.
Arrange an initial, no obligation consultation with our professional negligence solicitors in London
For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion of how our professional negligence solicitors may be able to help, please contact us.