A Guide to Claiming Compensation for Professional Negligence

Jan Samuel

Professional negligence claims can generally be brought against professionals, when they make a mistake or give you bad legal advice which causes you financial loss. 

Do I have a valid claim?

If the work carried out for you by the professional has fallen below the standard of a reasonable professional in that field, and their actions have caused you loss, then it is likely that you would be able to bring a claim for negligence against the professional. 

How long do I have to bring a professional negligence claim?

The usual rule is that if you want to bring a claim against a solicitor, you have six years from the date the negligent act, or the date of breach of contract (which can often be the same date). There are some circumstances in which the six year deadline can be extended, such as when you discover the negligence after the deadline has passed, but in most cases, it is best to bring the claim within the first six years. 

Will my opponent be insured?

The good news is that most professionals are required to have professional indemnity insurance, and in most cases, this will cover claims for professional negligence. For example, all solicitors firms are required to have this cover. In the case of some professionals, such as investment brokers, whether or not your claim will be covered will depend upon the type of advice they have given you. 

The law now says that if the professional you want to sue has gone out of business, you are able to bring a negligence claim against the insurer directly.

Is there a special procedure for bringing claims against professionals?

If you want to know how to bring a claim for professional negligence, the Pre Action Protocol for Professional Negligence claims sets out the procedure you should follow if you want to bring a claim. You can make a complaint to the professional, and make a complaint to their governing body, but in most cases it is advisable to seek professional advice about how to bring a claim against a professional which complies with the Protocol. 

The first stage is to send a Protocol compliant letter of claim, and then await a response. In some cases, an independent expert in the field will be appointed to give their opinion about whether the advice or service given by the professional was negligent. 

Solicitors should be able to help you settle a claim against a professional, without the need to go to court. In some rare cases, court proceedings might be necessary, but usually claims settle well before that stage.

If I win my claim against a professional, will I get paid?

Because most professionals carry professional indemnity insurance, your prospects of being paid are very high. This is very different to some claims where you are at risk of your opponent going bankrupt and not paying you, even if you have a court order against them. 

What are the costs of bringing a claim against a professional?

In most cases, the total costs of bringing a claim against a professional will depend upon the stage reached when the claim is finalised. If the claim is settled at mediation before court proceedings are issued, the costs will be far lower. In most cases, where a professional agrees to pay you damages in settlement of a claim, they will also agree to pay the majority of your costs. 

There are often circumstances where you may not be able to pay up front for legal fees for suing a professional, particularly if that professional has already caused you to incur significant losses. For clients in this predicament, we have developed a range of flexible funding options, which can include conditional (no win no fee) arrangements in appropriate cases. 

What should I do next?

If a professional has made a mistake which has cost you money, you should seek legal advice straight away to make sure you don't miss the deadline for bringing a claim. If you delay you could have your claim for professional negligence struck out.

In some types of case, such a surveyor's of builder's negligence claims, it is also very important that evidence of the negligence is preserved and recorded in the correct way. 

At Samuels Solicitors, we have many years of experience in assisting clients bring claims against professionals. Professional negligence claims are a niche area of law, and therefore expert advice is required. 

We will initially assess any matter for free. Contact us today for a free discussion with a solicitor about our services.