company struck off for not filing accounts

What is Professional Negligence? How long do you have to bring a claim and where do you begin?

What is Professional Negligence?

A professional is usually someone you have paid to provide you with a service.

Examples of professionals include:

  • accountants
  • architects
  • barristers
  • financial advisors
  • solicitors
  • surveyors

To bring a claim for professional negligence, you will need to be able to show that you have suffered financial loss as a result of the advice given to you by the professional, or as a result of something the professional did or didn’t do.

It is important to note that negligence is not the same as poor service, such as the professional being slow to reply to emails or return your calls.

How long do you have to bring a claim?

You usually have six years from the date the negligence occurred to bring a claim for professional negligence by issuing court proceedings. This is called the limitation period.

The limitation period can be extended in some cases if you only recently became aware of the negligence. In this case, you will have 3 years from the date you become aware (or should have become aware) that you have suffered financial loss as a result of the professional’s negligence.

However, all cases are subject to a longstop date (a date by which you must bring your claim) of 15 years from the date of the professional’s negligent act or omission, after which time you will not be able to bring a claim.

It is important to note that there are certain steps that must be taken before court proceedings can be started. You should therefore seek advice as soon as you become aware of a potential claim to ensure you have enough time to bring a claim before the expiry of the limitation period.

What can you get if you are successful?

If you successfully make a claim for professional negligence, the court will order the professional to pay a sum of money to you by way of compensation. This would be an amount to put you back into the position you would have been in if the professional had not been negligent in the first place.

Valuing a claim is a complex process and often needs an expert to assist with valuing the claim. However, it is usually possible for us to provide you with an initial assessment of the potential value of your claim based on the specific facts of your case.

Examples of cases that we have worked on include:

  • Acting on behalf of 8 claimants pursuing a claim against their former solicitor and barrister. This was a complex piece of litigation, and we were able to obtain over £1m in compensation for the claimants.
  • Acting for a number of National Trust tenants to bring claims against their conveyancing solicitors and the National Trust for failing to advise or make provision for significant increases in Modern Ground Rent.
  • Pursuing a claim against a Trademark Attorney for missing a deadline to register the client’s trademark. The amount claimed on behalf of our client was in the region of £2m.
  • Acting for a client pursuing a claim against her former matrimonial solicitors. She was awarded around £1m for her claim.
  • Acting for a client in a claim against a law firm which had failed to enquire as to whether the client had legal expenses insurance cover (which they did). The client incurred fees with this law firm that would have been covered by their insurance. We settled the claim and recovered a substantial amount for our client from the law firm in question.

What are the funding options?

There are a number of funding options available for professional negligence claims, such as:

  • use of a legal expenses policy (known as “before the event” insurance) which will pay some or all of our costs of dealing with the claim
  • “after the event” insurance which is taken out to protect you against having to pay the defendant’s costs if you lose
  • private funding
  • conditional fee agreement (sometimes known as a “no win, no or low fee” agreement)
  • damages-based agreement (a form of “no win, no fee” agreement) where a percentage of the compensation you receive is paid to us as costs
  • third party funding sometimes known as litigation loan, which is repaid from the compensation you receive if you win your case

How do I start a professional negligence claim?

If you think you may have a claim for professional negligence, it is important to seek legal advice promptly.

The first step in a professional negligence claim is to prepare a detailed letter (called a letter of claim or letter before action) setting out your claim. In order for us to do this, we will need to review documents and correspondence which are relevant to your claim. In order to do that, we will usually need to review the professional’s file of papers.

Once we have carried out this review of the papers, we will be able to provide you with an initial view on the merits of your claim.

It is likely that you will need evidence from an expert to support your claim for professional negligence. You may already have a second opinion or report from an expert (for example, from another surveyor) but if not, this is something that our team of experienced professional negligence lawyers can discuss with you and arrange if necessary.

If you think you may have a claim for professional negligence, our team of highly experienced professional negligence lawyers are here to assist you.