In simple terms, professional negligence means where a professional person fails to perform standards required of the clients, resulting in their suffering, damage or financial loss.
In recent years the number of claims against professionals like accountants, financial advisors, surveyors, etc. has increased dramatically due to many factors. Ideally, it is advisable to seek the help of professional negligence solicitors when you think you have a claim. They will provide advice yo on appropriate routes to resolve the disputes.
Usually, professional negligence solicitors work on client’s behalf on no-win, no-fee type of arrangments. From July 2001, the Pre-Action Protocol came into force. This protocol should be used in all professional negligence cases where there is no other specific protocol applies. The Protocol encourages all parties to consider using alternative methods of resolving the disputes at earliest rather than going through full court proceedings.
Essential elements to prove the claim:
– That the professional owed you a duty of care,
– Poor advice or work must have breached that duty
– And the breach must have caused loss, whether to a physical asset or financial loss
– If those elements can be shown that the work fell below the usual standard
The first step involves the use of the pre-action protocol. A claim must be set out in a Letter of Claim, and the defendant has three months to respond to the letter of claim with a reasoned reply. Both the parties are then expected to consider whether the claim can be resolved out of court. If the case can not be resolved out of the Court, then a Claim Form can be issued at court. When the parties have set out their arguments in writing, the court will set a timetable to resolve the dispute. Court requires various things like relevant documents, an exchange of written recollections of the witnesses and opinions of experts and then a date for trial. Usually, the process from the letter of claim to a hearing can take up to two years. At any stage, mediation can be considered. For lower value claims (up to £150,000) the Financial Ombudsman Service can also be used to provide an independent assessment of the claim and award compensation in spite of claiming court.
Time limit for claims?
You must be a time frame in which you need to make a claim. This is known as the ‘professional negligence limitation period.’ There are different time limits specified for different types of claim. But from a bigger perspective, there is a time limit of six years to bring a claim to the light from the date the negligence occurred. In case, if the neglect does not come to light until a later date there are situations, where claim time periods can be extended.