Solicitors owe all their clients a duty of care, including the businesses that hire them. Therefore, if your company has hired a solicitor, they owe you this duty of care as well. In this article, we take you through the definition of professional negligence and how this relates to a solicitor’s duty of care.
We’ve also provided some examples of scenarios that could mean a solicitor has been negligent and details on whether your business could be eligible to make a claim for compensation following an act of negligence.
About Professional Negligence
As mentioned above, if a solicitor takes you on as a client, they owe you a duty of care. What this means is that they must provide you with a service that meets a certain level. This is a legally binding and contractual responsibility due to the level of training and knowledge a solicitor should possess regarding the area of law in which they’re specialised.
A solicitor must uphold this duty to your business if you’ve hired them. If the service they provide falls below the required standard, this is referred to as a breach of their duty of care.
A breach of a solicitor’s duty of care could cause your company loss. This “loss” can take two main forms.
One example of this could be if one of your employees makes a personal injury claim against your company. In this instance, you may hire a solicitor to defend the business. However, they could make an avoidable error which causes you to lose a case that you would otherwise have won. This may result in you having to award the employee compensation they were ineligible to receive.
Loss of Chance
To illustrate, we can turn to conveyancing law. A conveyancing solicitor will often assist in the acquisition of property or land for the use of your business. If your solicitor is negligent, this could result in your company’s loss of chance to purchase resources such as these to expand and improve your business.
What To Do If A Solicitor Acts Negligently
Before taking action that leads to solicitors negligence claims, it’s important to know about other parts of the process.
Firstly, if you’ve been affected by professional negligence by a solicitor, you should investigate the extent and nature of the loss you’ve experienced. The amount of money or opportunities your company loses as a result of solicitor negligence will change on a case-by-case basis. It’s important to have all the facts and figures.
Check when the loss occurred. If it was longer than 6 years ago, then you may find it much more difficult (if not impossible) to begin a claim for compensation. This is because professional negligence is a breach of contract. As such, The Limitation Act 1980 tells us the time limit to begin the process of claiming is 6 years.
Seeking legal advice is also an important step in the wake of a loss caused by professional negligence. The advice of a legal professional can let you know whether your company could be owed compensation for the loss you’ve experienced.
Examples Of Professionals Who Could Be Negligent
As well as solicitors, you may experience loss as the result of the actions of professionals in other fields. In this section, we’ve included some examples of other professionals whose negligence could damage your business. You’ll find them in the list below.
- Architects – Your business may have hired an architect. One of their responsibilities is to acquire planning permission before construction can begin. Otherwise, the property may need to be demolished due to the lack of said permission. If your company has invested in the project, this could result in a substantial financial loss.
- Accountants – Those responsible for your company’s finances may make an error with certain calculations. For instance, they make miscalculate how much your company owes. There could be legal repercussions if your company doesn’t pay enough tax. If you pay too much, this could also result in a financial loss.
- Financial advisors – Your company may have acted on poorly researched advice from a professional. If so, this could lead to you losing the money you invested.
It’s important to remember there are examples other than those shown above.
Advice On Taking Legal Action For Professional Negligence
As part of the process of making a professional negligence claim, you’ll need to gather evidence. This is to prove your loss was due to the negligence of the professional you hired. Examples of evidence that can be useful include:
- Correspondence with the professional in question – For example, when they notify you of your company’s loss. If they inform you in person or over the phone, ask for the information in writing.
- Business financial records – This will show transactions related to investments and withdrawals associated with the loss experienced by your company.
It’s also important to begin legal proceedings within 6 years of your company’s loss. As stated earlier, The Limitation Act 1980 states this is the time limit in which to begin a professional negligence claim. If you fail to begin a claim within this timeframe, it could become impossible to have your loss and claim addressed.
We hope you now have a better understanding of professional negligence claims against solicitors, as well as those in other fields.
Hopefully, the knowledge regarding what professional negligence is, and whether your company could be eligible to make a claim for compensation, will aid you in your decision when exploring your options in the wake of a loss.