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Negligence can be described as a failure to take proper care.

Professional negligence is a complex area of the law and refers to the type of cases where a private individual or a business is let down by a professional, such as a solicitor or accountant, and suffers a financial loss.  A claim may be brought in a number of different ways.  For example the negligence may be a breach of contract in respect of the contract between the individual and the professional.  Alternatively, there may be a breach of the duty of care owed by a professional in the tort of negligence.  A tort is a legal wrong.

Examples of claims for professional negligence that we have successfully bought include a claim on behalf of the executors of an estate whose solicitors failed to advise on the need to pay capital gains tax and income tax during the administration of the estate.  An accountant who failed to properly advise our client regarding VAT liability on a property development scheme.  An architect who failed to properly estimate the build cost of a new property.

Claiming for professional negligence

Claims for professional negligence will include claims against professionals such as solicitors, barristers, surveyors, financial advisers and architects.  In fact, wherever professional services have been provided and the client has suffered a financial loss because of the professional’s carelessness there may be a claim for compensation.

The Civil Procedure Rules govern civil Court proceedings in England and Wales.  To make a claim for professional negligence it is important to comply with the Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol which is set out under the Civil Procedure Rules.  While making a claim for professional negligence does not mean that Court proceedings are inevitable we can and do issue Court proceedings on behalf of our clients in respect of such claims where it is necessary to do so.

Time limits for professional negligence claims

There are strict time limits to pursue a professional negligence claim.  Normally, such a claim must be bought within six years from the date of the breach of contract or within six years from the date when the damage is suffered in a negligence claim.  The six year period is known as the limitation period.  If you did not become aware of your loss within the six year limitation period then it may still be possible to bring a claim after the initial limitation period has expired.  You may be able to bring a claim within three years of the date of knowledge of the negligent act provided the claim is bought within the longstop limitation period of fifteen years.  Exceptions to the basic time limits may apply, however, our advice is always that you should obtain advice about your claim as soon as you think you may have a claim.

Do professional negligence claims have to go to Court?

We always try to resolve client’s claims without resorting to Court proceedings and, in fact, the Civil Procedure Rules require that parties should attempt to settle disputes by alternative dispute resolution before resorting to Court proceedings.  We often find that mediation is an effective method of dispute resolution.  Mediation can simply be described as assisted negotiation with a neutral third party mediator.

Funding a professional negligence claim

There are often different ways in which you may be able to fund a claim for professional negligence.  We usually act for clients on a private fee paying basis, however, other options may be available.  You may already have legal expense insurance that is an “extra” to a property or motor insurance policy.  Alternatively, it may be possible to fund a claim using a conditional fee agreement, or litigation funding from a third party litigation funder might be available.

Clients are often concerned that if they make a claim against a professional that they will run the risk of having to pay the professional’s legal costs.  As a general rule, an unsuccessful party in litigation will be ordered to pay the successful parties’ legal costs. However, we will always try to reach a settlement of your claim by alternative dispute resolution before issuing Court proceedings.  If Court proceedings are unavoidable then it may be possible to purchase insurance cover to protect against the risk of having to pay the other parties’ costs.

Speak to a specialist dispute resolution solicitor

Bray & Bray’s dispute resolution team has specialist solicitors who deal with disputes between individuals, disputes between individuals and businesses, and disputes between businesses.

To speak to a specialist today, contact the specialist team of dispute resolution solicitors using one of the telephone numbers below:

Tim Bennett who heads up the Dispute Resolution Department is a member of the Professional Negligence Lawyer’s Association and is an Accredited Mediator.

Commercial mediation services

Bray & Bray is also able to offer commercial mediation for commercial disputes.  For more information about this, contact Tim Bennett via email at tjbennett@braybray.co.uk