Professional negligence


31 May, 2007

It has been busy in the Courts with professional negligence cases recently. None of them were particularly revolutionary they just act as a reminder that such cases can be quite technical. It is not just about proving that the architect, accountant, surveyor, solicitor or other professional person has done a bad job for you. In fact that is often the easiest bit of the case. Provided that you are able to demonstrate that the professional has acted so badly that no reasonably competent professional would have done what they did then you will have got over the first hurdle in bringing a claim. The next step is more difficult - you need to prove that the professional's actions (or omissions) led to you suffering some loss. It is this link between the professional's actions and the loss suffered that has been explored in a couple of very recent cases.

A disappointed litigant sued his solicitors arguing that they had failed to seek Counsel's advice in good time before the Court dealt with his appeal and had failed to notice (and advise him properly upon) a valuation which did not support his case. The Court hearing the negligence action agreed that his solicitors were negligent but found that Counsel's advice would have been the same even if he had been consulted earlier and the lethal effect of the valuation would have still been the same. In other words there was no loss flowing from the solicitor's negligence - the outcome of the appeal would have been the same whether the solicitors got it right or not. The case in negligence failed and the litigant only recovered nominal damages for breach of contract.

In another disappointed litigant case the Court considered that although the solicitors had fallen below the standard of reasonably competent solicitors in relation to the advice they should have given in one aspect of the case, the litigant had suffered no loss in consequence because even if he had been given the correct advice he would not have accepted it and would have pursued the case in any event.

If you have been let down by a professional you have placed your trust in them don't be put off by these cases as the law is there to ensure you receive compensation but please do get some good technical advice about the prospects of success in pursuing a claim to avoid becoming disappointed.

Claire Edbury

T: 01254 222399 E: Claire Edbury


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