Solicitors' Negligence Ruling: Legal Update

Jan Samuel

The Court of Appeal has upheld a negligence claim against a law firm (Raleys), finding that its ‘commoditised’ advice meant that part of a personal injury claim was missed. 

Andrew Procter had settled a personal injury claim against his employers in 2003, for £11,141. He then brought a claim against his previous solicitors Raleys, after he realised that they had failed to claim either loss of earnings or for help needed with domestic tasks as a result of his injury on his behalf.

Procter was awarded a further sum because of this negligence, but Raleys appealed the decision, saying that Mr Procter had understood their advice.

However, the judge in the Court of Appeal said the advice in Raleys' letters was unclear and they ought to have realised the full extent of Mr Procter's claim when they spoke to him on the telephone. The judge said:

‘It is not asking much of a solicitor ... to make sure that his client understands the opportunity apparently being passed up.’

The judge also dismissed arguments from Raleys that they were not being paid enough to investigate Mr Procter's claim in more depth. In relation to this the judge said:

‘I reject the notion that a solicitor should feel inhibited from ensuring that his client has understood advice given to him by the consideration that so ensuring might generate a further fee payable by the client.’

The Appeal Court has sent a clear message that solicitors, even if they are working for relatively low fixed fees, still have an obligation to their clients to provide full advice, rather than relying on standardised correspondence. 

At Samuels, we specialise in bringing claims against solicitors and other professionals who have made mistakes.

If you have suffered loss as a result of professional negligence, our no win no fee solicitors should be able to assist you. Contact us today for a free no obligation discussion about how we can help.