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What is professional negligence?
Professional negligence by a solicitor occurs when their service to you falls so far below the standards you are entitled to expect, that you suffer financial loss. In those circumstances, you would be able to bring a claim against them to recover your losses.
Unfortunately, solicitors do sometimes fall short of the standards you are entitled to expect. When that happens, it is important that you get legal advice from a different solicitor as quickly as possible, to ensure that you minimise your losses.
Because solicitors deal with such diverse types of work, from buying and selling houses, to drafting wills and powers of attorney, selling multi million pound businesses and dealing with complex litigation cases, it is important that you seek the advice of an expert when any of these things go wrong.
As solicitors are often entrusted with some of the biggest investments that people make, such as buying property, or a business, or bringing a personal injury claim, when things go wrong, the consequences can be devastating, and claims can easily run into six figures.
Examples of professional negligence
The ways in which a solicitor can be negligent are as diverse at the types of work which solicitors carry out. Some examples of professional negligence claims that we have dealt with are as follows:
- a solicitor making mistakes when drafting a will: wills are very complex documents. When a solicitor (or other professional) makes a mistake drawing up a will, the consequences can be devastating for the family of a loved one who has passed away. If their will has not been drawn up properly, this can lead to lengthy and expensive disputes over a will between family members. If you are worried that your will may not have been drawn up properly, contact us and we will check it for you for free.
- a solicitor who fails to advise about covenants or permissions relating to a property: this type of negligence can take many forms. If you have bought a property expecting to be able to develop it, perhaps your solicitor has failed to advise you about issues which would prevent you from doing so. Solicitors also sometime fail to spot planning permissions on neighbouring properties, which can affect the value of the property you have purchased. Another common mistake, is failing to ensure that the boundaries of the land being purchased are correct. If this happens, you could end up in lengthy and expensive boundary dispute proceedings against neighbours.
- a solicitor who fails to advise you to accept an offer, or advises to settle for too less: this can typically happen in personal injury cases, where an opponent makes an offer to settle. If your solicitor fails to advise you to accept an offer, which you then fail to beat at trial, the costs consequences can be devastating. In those circumstances, it would have been negligent of your solicitor to fail to advise you to accept the offer. Alternatively, your solicitor might advise you to accept an offer, which turns out to be a mistake. Your solicitor or barrister should advise you about the level of damages you are entitled to expect and if they seriously undervalue your claim, you could sue them for the difference. If you have settled for too little, then we can help.
- a solicitor who makes mistakes in litigation or fails to perpare properly for trial: solicitors are required to provide you with accurate advice about your case at every stage. If they fail to do so, it might mean that you settle to early, for too little. Alternatively, it might mean that you pursue your case to court and lose, when you should have been advised to settle much earlier. The courts are also incredibly intolerant of any party making procedural errors, such as missing court deadlines, or failing to produce documents for the court in the proper form. If this happens, and your case is thrown out in whole or in part, it is possible that you would be able to sue your solicitor for negligence.
- a solicitor who fails to adquately advise someone about the risks they are taking underwriting a loan for another person: this situation typically arises when a person with a small business raises capital for their business which is secured against their home. In those circumstances, anyone who they own the property with jointly, must have adequate advice to allow them to weigh up the risks involved. At Samuels Solicitors, we successfully brought one of the most important cases of solicitors negligence in this area for many years.
How we can help
Samuels Solicitors, based in Devon, are a niche litigation practice with a particular specialism in bringing professional negligence claims against solicitors, over several decades. We have helped clients not only in Devon, but throughout the whole of the UK, when then have had claims against their solicitors.
Our managing partner, Jan Samuel, has been a member of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association for many years, and is described by clients as a litigation heavyweight. Jan is supported by his business parter Judith Thompson, who worked at some of the biggest law firms in the UK, specifically in the area of professional negligence, before moving home to Devon.
Either Jan or Judith will be happy to discuss your professional negligence matter with you. We offer all clients free initial advice and we support our clients with flexible funding options when they need it, which can include conditional (no win no fee) arrangements in appropriate cases.
If you have been let down by a solicitor, don't delay. Contact us today to see how we can help you recover your losses.