In the UK, professional negligence claims have been increasing for a while. It is believed that the main cause of this is that clients are relying more heavily on the advice they receive, as a result of the complexity of the work being done by professionals. As a society, we are also more conscious of our legal rights and less tolerant of loss. Clients may want to seek compensation from the professional who let them down, in a time of economic hardship as those losses can be crucial to an individual’s/company’s fiscal stability.
What Does Professional Negligence Entail?
When a professional does not carry out their duties to the standard expected of a reasonably competent person, it is deemed professional negligence. Depending on the specifics of a case, the duty of care standard may be higher or lower, for example, depending on the contract or profession. Lenders, accountants, auditors, solicitors, independent financial advisers, surveyors, and insurance brokers are just a few of the professionals, who may be the target of this kind of claim.
Do You have a Professional Negligence Claim?
To file a claim for professional negligence, you must prove four essential factors. The first is the duty of care. In general, professionals have a responsibility to their clients. For instance, an independent financial adviser may have a duty of care when recommending financial products to make sure those recommendations are appropriate for the client’s needs and that the client is aware of the risks involved.
The second is a breach of duty which requires that the professional, in light of the customary practices in that particular profession, has performed below the standards of a reasonably competent professional. It’s not always necessary for an error to constitute negligence. The third factor is causation, which means the loss must have been brought on by negligence; if the loss would have happened regardless of the negligent advice, you may not be able to pursue a claim. Whether the loss would have still occurred “but for” the professional’s negligence is the pertinent question here.
Loss is the final factor which must be taken into consideration. The fundamental idea here is to put the claimant back in the same situation that would have existed had the professional not been careless. Depending on the specifics of the case, such as whether a missed opportunity occurred, it may be difficult to quantify or prove that the loss was reasonably foreseeable. Claimants must, where practical, take reasonable steps to minimise their losses and will lose the sympathy of the Court if such steps are not taken where and when possible.
The principle of Mitigation of Damage can be traced from Halsbury’s Laws of England (4th Edn.) Vol. 12, para 1193 page 477, which runs thus5–
“1193. Plaintiff’s duty to mitigate loss. The plaintiff must take all reasonable steps to mitigate the loss which he has sustained consequent upon the defendant’s wrong, and, if he fails to do so, he cannot claim damages for any such loss which he ought reasonably to have avoided.”
Before filing a claim, you should also think about whether the professional might assert that you contributed to or caused the losses incurred. This is the “contributory negligence” defence. The losses claimed may be lessened if the expert can prove that you were somehow involved in the negligence.
Are there Time Limits for Filing Claims?
Different types of claims have deadlines by which they must be issued. These dates are referred to as “limitation dates.” There are different deadlines for various claims, but generally speaking, you have six years from the date of the negligent act to file a claim. The clock may, however, begin to run three years from the moment you learned the following information: a) that you had been negatively affected; b) the defendant’s identity; and/or c) that the harm was brought on by the defendant’s actions or inactions before the negligent act.
In any case there is a 15-year stop date, so if you learn of the breach 14 years after it occurred, you will only have one year ibn which to file a claim. After the limitation period has passed, you will no longer be able to file a claim because it is “time-barred.”
How Can Van Eaton Solicitors Help?
In contract disputes, we represent both individuals and small businesses. Each contract is unique; some are unwritten while others are the outcome of long-standing, unofficial business relationships. Our expertise enables us to evaluate the contract’s terms and inform you of your legal position promptly. Our advice to you will be specific to your situation because we examine each contract on an individual basis.
If you are involved in a contentious litigation matter such as professional negligence claims, you can contact our London-based solicitors for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. Call us on 0208 769 6739 or complete the online form.