It has become more and more commonplace in today’s society to make a claim against professionals who have been negligent when they should be the experts at hand.
Claims have seen an increase against professionals, such as accountants, financial advisors, surveyors and architects because of a number of reasons:
- Increased awareness of legal rights
- Raised complexity of work carried out
- More reliance on advice from professionals
As making a professional negligence claim can be intricate and often complex, it is really important to contact an experienced specialist in this area who will be able to give you the sound advice you require.
Below are three of the most important considerations that you need to be aware of before making a claim for professional negligence.
Duty of Care
It is possible for a professional to owe many duties to the individual claiming against them, and in most cases this is obvious. In a lot of cases, there is a written agreement between the professional and the claimant, outlining what the professional with the expertise will be doing, which is used as confirmation by the paying client that they trust a professional to do a job or provide a service.
There doesn’t always have to be a written agreement and sometimes a client will assume a duty of care towards them when they instruct a professional publicising themselves as an expert or specialist in a particular area.
Breach of Duty
A duty of care is breached when a professional falls below the standards of a ‘reasonably competent professional’ in the same field, which are the standards normally expected. For a claim to be successful, this will need to be demonstrated by the individual claiming. It doesn’t matter if the professional in question is newly qualified or has a more senior role; all must demonstrate a reasonable standard.
An integral part of the claim process is to prove that a loss was suffered as a result of the negligence of the professional. If the professional was negligent, but there was no loss incurred, you won’t have a claim. The circumstances of an individual claim can be very complex and it’s proving that the negligent actions caused a loss which is key. This area is often referred to as ‘causation’.
The amount of loss that can be claimed for is tightly linked to the causation. As a rule of thumb, assess the position the claimant would be in if the professional hadn’t breached their duty of care.
A successful claimant will be able to establish that they were firstly owed a duty of care by the professional, which was then breached, which caused a loss to the claimant.
Author: Danielle Clements
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Gorvins Solicitors directly.
Published on 19th July 2016
(Last updated 23rd March 2018)