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Claim Against a Professional- FAQ's

What is professional negligence?

Professional negligence is where a professional (e.g. an accountant, architect, barrister, solicitor, surveyor or valuer) fails to perform their responsibilities to the required standard of a reasonably competent professional in that field, resulting in damage or loss to the client. A claim in professional negligence can be based on both negligent acts and failures to act.
 

Do I have a claim?

Various requirements need to be satisfied for a Claimant to pursue a successful professional negligence claim. Professional negligence is a complex area of law. The Claimant must show:
 

1.      Duty of care:

A professional must have been instructed to carry out a particular task for the Claimant, or to advise in a matter, where a duty of care was owed to the Claimant to undertake that work to a reasonable standard and with reasonable care. Usually , but not exclusively, the duty of care arises when there is a contract between the Claimant and the professional, the Claimant pays for the work to be done, and the Claimant has relied upon the professional to undertake the work to a reasonable standard.

2.      Breach of duty:

Has the professional's conduct fallen below the standard that is reasonably required? The standard is that expected of a reasonably competent professional in the same field.

3.      Causation

Has the breach of duty directly caused the loss or damage suffered? I.E, if the Claimant would have acted in the same way or suffered the same loss or damage, irrespective of the professional's involvement, there is no causation and no claim.

4.     Damage:

Loss or damage must have been caused by the alleged negligence, such as damage to property and financial loss. It is also necessary to prove that the financial loss was directly caused by the negligent professional’s actions. Losses can only be claimed for that  are reasonably foreseeable.

 

What is the time limit for making a claim?

The primary limitation period for making a professional negligence claim is six years. After that, it may be possible to extend time if the date when the Claimant first became aware of the circumstances that gave rise to a claim was within the last three years.
 

How is a professional negligence claim pursued?

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) set out the Pre-Action Protocols which have to be followed when pursuing a claim for professional negligence. Failure to comply with the protocol would lead to cost penalties being imposed, or the Claimant’s case being struck out.
The Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol provides that there must be an attempt at co-operation between the Claimant and the Professional  in an effort to settle the case without issuing court proceedings.
 
The Letter of Claim should include the following:
  • The factual and legal basis of the claim
  • A chronological summary of the case
  • Allegations against the professional
  • Confirmation of whether an expert has been appointed
  • The key documents
  • Details of the loss claimed
The professional must acknowledge receipt of the letter within 21 days of receiving it. Thereafter, the professional has three months to investigate the matter and provide a detailed Letter of Response, either admitting the claim and making proposals for settlement, or alternatively, setting out full reasons as to why the claim is disputed.
 
If no settlement is reached, then the Claimant may pursue the claim by issuing court proceedings.  However, all parties to claims have a duty to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at every stage. Most professional negligence claims are dealt with in the County Court. However, more complex  and higher value cases will be dealt with in the High Court.
 

What next?

A Claimant with a potential Professional Negligence claim should consider consulting specialist professional negligence solicitors.  Advice should be obtained on key aspects of the claim and how it may be pursued, including:
  • existence of a duty of care
  • scope of that duty
  • quality of the advice that is given by the professional
  • issues of causation
  • duty to mitigate, and;
  • measure of compensation

 

If you would like any information on professional negligence claimsor about our services and advice regarding funding options, including No Win - No Fee (Conditional Fee Agreements) please call our team at BHP Law on 0800 590 019 or email us at info@bhplaw.co.uk or fill in the online enquiry form and one of our team will contact you as soon as possible.

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