Professional Negligence: Examples and Proof
In a recent article, we wrote about making claims against professionals and used the example of a solicitor being negligent as a result of failing to start court proceedings within the correct time frame. We explained how GA can help to see whether the mistake can be put right and, if not, to make a claim against the negligent solicitor and their insurer.
Lawyers such as solicitors and barristers are not the only professionals that we can help you to make a professional negligence claim against. Other professionals owe duties of care towards their clients and, if they breach those duties, should have insurance in place to meet any claim.
Consider these made-up examples:
- A couple buy a house intending to carry out substantial renovations. They commission a full survey, having told the surveyor their plans. The surveyor’s report isn’t clear about whether there is asbestos in the property and the couple have to pay extra expense to have the asbestos safely removed
- A company pays its accountants to undertake regular financial audits. The accountant does not spot that there has been some fraud, meaning that the company has lost money over a number of years
- A wealthy individual wants to minimise his tax bill. His advisor recommends a scheme which has not been approved by HMRC. HMRC challenge the scheme, meaning that that individual does not minimise his tax and may have extra fees and costs to pay on top
Of course, these are only examples of what could be negligence by the professional. However, these scenarios aren’t enough to prove professional negligence occurred and that compensation ought to be paid. We would look at the following:
- What exactly was the scope of the professional’s duty? In the first example, the surveyor might have explained that different types of report are available and that this particular report wouldn’t show whether there was asbestos and that further investigations would be needed
- What difference does the advice make? In the second example, the accountants weren’t responsible for carrying out the fraud. The fraudster was responsible and there are probably other people in the company who could have spotted what was going on
- What would the client have done differently if properly advised? In our third example, the wealthy individual may have already known that the tax scheme was not authorised and that it could be challenged by HMRC, even if the advisor wasn’t clear about this. Alternatively, he may have been happy to take the risk because of the opportunity to reduce his tax bill
If you believe that you have been a victim of professional negligence, you should seek advice as soon as possible. We are happy to have a chat about how the situation has arisen but, because this can be complex, we would need you to tell us the full background and to consider the advice that the professional gave you in order to tell you whether you could be successful in any claim. The first step is to send a ‘letter of claim’ to the professional and, once we have their response, we can advise you whether to seek a settlement or to start court proceedings to resolve your claim.
You can call me to discuss the viability of your professional negligence claim on 01752 203500 or email me via matthew.ellis@GAsolicitors.com.