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What is Professional Negligence?

Naturally a certain level of skill and care is expected when you instruct a professional person; if a professional fails to perform to the standard required of them this is known as professional negligence.

As an individual or business it is likely there will come a time in your life when you need to instruct a professional such as an accountant, solicitor, financial advisor or architect for specialist advice.

Professional negligence can have a detrimental impact both on a personal and commercial level, resulting in lost time and money, and unnecessary stress as well as missed opportunities and potential bankruptcy or business failure. It can often occur as a result of a professional trying to give advice on an area outside of their expertise or passing the work on to a colleague who doesn’t have the sufficient knowledge required.

To argue a successful negligence dispute you have to do more than establish that the professional you instructed failed to spot something crucial or gave bad advice; you must also be able to prove that the level of service given by the professional amounts to a breach of duty and has directly caused you financial loss. This is not always easy to prove, but at Rotheras our Dispute Resolution team have a wealth of experience in dealing with professional negligence claims and can help you in navigating this complex area of law and building up a successful case.

Why use Rotheras for a Negligence Dispute?

We have significant experience advising both individuals and businesses on professional negligence claims.

We have made claims for professional negligence across a wide range of industries.

We will assess the prospects of your claim, and where we think you have a case we will assist you in pursuing the claim.

You will be assigned a lead fee earner who will keep you updated on progress at every stage.

We can advise on resolving your case through various methods of alternative dispute resolution including negotiation, mediation and arbitration in an attempt to avoid court proceedings.

We will work closely with you to prove causation and demonstrate whether or not the losses you have suffered are a direct or indirect result of the negligence of the professional you are seeking to pursue.

We will ascertain the losses you’ve suffered as a result of the breach of duty and ask the courts to restore you to the position you were in before receiving the negligent advice from the professional.

We can help you with Professional Negligence claims against:

  • Architects
  • Accountants
  • Solicitors
  • Financial Advisors
  • Tax Advisors
  • Surveyors
  • Valuers
  • Insurance Brokers
  • Engineers

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Richard Hammond

“We strive to make every matter as stress free as possible”

Richard Hammond
Head of Litigation


What is professional negligence?

Broadly, professional negligence occurs where a professional fails to perform their responsibilities to the required standard. This may occur where a professional you have engaged makes a mistake, which demonstrates a lack of care and attention, incompetence or negligence.  This may include, missing deadlines or being misadvised, resulting in you suffering damage and/or loss. Professional negligence cases cover a range of instances where you have been provided with poor advice which does not adequately reflect your instructions, or which is not generally correct. It may also cover many professionals providing you with a service which does not meet the level you should expect.

Who can I make a claim against for professional negligence?

You could make a claim against an accountant, financial advisor, solicitor, architect, engineer, barrister, surveyor, valuer or insurance broker etc.

How to prove professional negligence?

There are three basic requirements which must be proved by the claimant on a balance of probabilities, namely:

  1. Duty of care – the defendant owed the claimant a duty not to cause the type of harm suffered
  2. Breach of duty – the defendant breached the duty owed
  3. Causation – this has two elements, both of which must be proved:

i Factual causation: the claimant must prove that, but for the defendant’s negligence, the claimant would not have suffered the loss; and

ii Legal causation or remoteness: whether the defendant’s negligence was the legal cause of the loss.

How to claim for professional negligence?

To make a claim you will need to be able to show that there was a relationship between you and the professional, giving rise to a duty of care being owed.  A duty of care can arise whether or not there is a contractual relationship between the parties.  Where there is a contractual relationship however, there may be concurrent duties in both contract and in tort. As a general rule, professionals are taken to have assumed responsibility towards their clients and so owe a duty of care in tort and contractual obligations.

You then need to be able to show that the professional breached their duty of care by acting to a lesser standard than that which is expected in their industry and arising from that breach you suffered a loss.

If your claim value is £10,000 or less it will be dealt with in the small claims court. It is worth bearing in mind that if your claim falls within the small claims court, even in the event that you win the case you will only be able recover a small amount of your legal costs, known as fixed costs. Claims within the small claims court therefore need careful consideration so as to avoid the costs becoming disproportionate to the value of the claim.

For claims that exceed the sum of £10,000, these claims will fall within the County Court or High Court dependent on the value and complexity of the case.

If you are unsure whether you have a claim, call our Dispute Resolution team, who will be happy to discuss your case with you.

Does professional indemnity insurance cover negligence?

Professional indemnity insurance may cover compensation and legal fees and is usually in place to protect business owners, freelancers and self-employed professionals if a professional negligence claim is made against them.

How long do you have to make a claim for professional negligence?

This is a complex legal point and you should seek specific legal advice in relation to this.  The limitation period for a claim in tort is six years from the accrual of the cause of action, however special rules apply to actions for damages in negligence in respect of latent damage. If at the time the claimant’s cause of action accrues, he does not have knowledge of all material facts, then the limitation period may be extended to three years from the date when the claimant knows or ought to have known of the cause of action.

We would advise seeking legal advice as soon as you become aware of the potential negligence, as the courts will assess limitation in line with when you ought to have known about the cause of action, which can vary significantly from when you realised you had a right to bring a claim for professional negligence.

How much does it cost to make a claim?

There is no set cost for making a professional negligence claim as each case is different. The costs for pursuing a claim in professional negligence are significant, and therefore careful consideration is needed as to costs proportionality. If you are considering pursuing a claim for professional negligence, please contact us to discuss the likely costs. We will be upfront and transparent about the likely fees involved.

Will I have to attend court?

Most professional negligence cases are settled before reaching trial; however, if the other side does not accept liability, then you may be required to attend court to give oral evidence.

Can I still make a claim if the professional is insolvent?

Most professionals are required to have professional indemnity insurance in place whilst the business is operating so that if a claim for negligence is made against them the insurer is responsible for payment of any damages. Some professionals may also have “run-off cover” which covers claims made against an organisation within six years of them becoming insolvent, and again would be the responsibility of the insurer to pay out if your claim is successful.

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Contact our Dispute Resolution Team
Dispute Resolution Team
Richard Bates

Richard Bates

Richard Bates leads the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team at Rotheras. Richard is a litigation specialist and can provide a wide range of services to both commercial and private clients.

Richard Hammond

Richard Hammond

Richard Hammond is a Dispute Resolution specialist and mediator at Nottingham-based law firm Rotheras Solicitors. Richard is also a notary public, processing client documents for international use.

Tehri Sygrove

Terhi Sygrove

Terhi Sygrove is a debt recovery specialist and head of the debt recovery department at Nottingham-based law firm Rotheras Solicitors.

Grant Benskin

Grant Benskin

Grant Benskin is an Associate Solicitor Advocate in Rotheras’ Dispute Resolution team and is based at our Lace Market office in the heart of Nottingham city centre.

Paige Regardsoe

Paige Regardsoe

Paige Regardsoe is a Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution department and is based at our Lace Market office.

Abagail Clarke

Abagail Clarke is a paralegal in Rotheras’ Dispute Resolution department and is based at our Lace Market office.

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