Do you have a claim against a professional?
Has a professional let you down? Has a professional made a mistake? Mistakes by professionals can be costly and complicated to rectify. The good news is that solicitors, financial advisors, architects and other professionals, are often insured, and so the cost of instructing a solicitor to sort out a professional's mistakes is often covered.
We can help you ensure that you can bring a claim against a negligent professional in a cost-efficient way.
What is Professional Negligence?
Professional negligence is the name given to mistakes made by professionals, which they ought not to have made. The most common professional negligence claims that we deal with are against solicitors, accountants, investment advisors and surveyors although any type of professional can be negligent.
You are entitled to expect that solicitors, barristers, financial advisors, accountants, and any other type of professional that you come into contact with, will provide you will accurate advice. If they do not, this can lead to significant losses.
Often mistakes by solicitors can occur during the conveyance of a property, dealing with a personal injury claim, or dealing with the estate of someone who has passed away. More detailed examples of claims against solicitors, as well as examples of claims against other types of professionals are given below.
Suing a Solicitor
When solicitors make mistakes, it can be extremely costly for their clients. If a solicitor has let you down, or messed up your case, we can put their mistakes right and recover damages for you.
We have decades of experience of bringing successful negligence claims against solicitors. Examples of the cases we have dealt with are:
- a solicitor at a large regional law firm, who failed to advise a client who was signing away her property. In this case, a wife had agreed to allow her home to be used to support her husband's business, but the solicitor who advised her, failed to tell her about the risks she was taking, and she lost her home. The solicitor should have provided her with advice as set out in the case of Barclays Bank v Etridge, but did not do so. She was able to sue her negligent solicitor for recovery of her losses, which was half the value of the matrimonial home;
- a solicitor who failed to ensure the preservation of a right of way. A firm of solicitors transferred part of a parcel of land to another party, but failed to reserve a right of way for the retained land, which ended up being land locked. This meant that the land which had been retained was worth a lot less than it otherwise would have been and the owner of the retained land was able to sue the negligent solicitor to recoup their loss;
- a solicitor who failed to correctly identify boundaries in a conveyancing transaction. In this case, a series of solicitors failed to spot that the gardens in a new development had not been laid out according to plan, were incorrect in size and overlapped. Accordingly, the properties were worth less, and costs were incurred in sorting out the boundary issues. The negligent solicitors who had failed to deal with these issues for the original buyers, had to cover those costs; and
- a solicitor who failed to advise correctly in relation to jointly owned property. When a property is purchased, it is important that the solicitor discusses with the client whether they wish to hold the property as joint tenants or tenants in common. When the discussion does not take place, or the clients' instructions are not followed correctly, this can lead to serious consequences, particularly when one of the parties passes away. We have brought claims on behalf of the estates of deceased persons, for losses incurred as a result of negligent advice.
Making a Claim Against Your Accountant
We also regularly take action against accountants who have let their clients down. Our most recent case against an accountant, was where the accountant had failed to advise properly on a complex high value tax saving scheme. When these schemes fail, clients can be left with large tax bills, as well as financial penalties and other sanctions.
We have also brought successful claims against accountants for failing to give correct advice on capital allowances, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. Again, claims can be brought on behalf of the estate of a deceased person, if they have not been advised properly on tax arrangements during their lifetime.
Poor investment advice by accountants and other financial advisors can often mean large losses being incurred by clients. Whilst most clients making investments appreciate that there is an element of risk, where the advice has been so poor so as to be negligent, or where investments were made in high risk portfolios when clients specified that they were risk adverse, claims can be made against the advisors to get back the money that has been lost.
Did your accountant prepare your will? As will writing is currently an unregulated activity, many accountants and other financial services professionals have started to offer will-writing services. As they are not necessarily qualified to do this work, wills can be prepared wrongly, leading to claims by beneficiaries and other family members. Claims about negligently prepared wills are on the increase, and are generally very complex. We have a wealth of experience of dealing with this type of claim, going back many decades.
Claims Against Surveyors
Surveyors' mistakes can be very costly to clients, as they can be expensive to put right and affect the value of property. It is possible that rectification work will need to be carried out to the property, the costs of which can be sought from the negligent surveyor in many cases.
Claims against surveyors can often arise out of negligent valuations, where a surveyor has overvalued a property or undervalued a property, when preparing a pre-purchase survey.
Also, it is not uncommon for a surveyor to fail to pick up on an obvious problem with a property, such as the presence of asbestos, damp or dry rot, which can also lead to claims for negligence. The cost of putting these problems right can be claimed from surveyors who ought to have picked them up in surveys.
The Costs of Bringing a Professional Negligence Claim
When you have been let down by a professional, we understand that you may not be able to pay for your legal advice up front, and so we will discuss funding options with you at the outset.
We are dedicated to ensuring that clients with strong cases have access to justice and we will always consider flexible funding arrangements, including no win no fee agreements, to ensure that your up-front costs are minimised.
The good news is that most professionals will be covered by professional indemnity insurance, which means that even if your claim is a large one, you do not need to worry about the professional not being able to pay you as their insurance will cover the damages they have to pay you. The insurance should also cover the majority of your legal costs.
Our Expertise as Professional Negligence Lawyers
Samuels Solicitors has an excellent reputation for our expertise in this specialist area, built up over many years. We believe we are the only solicitors' practice in North Devon with this niche specialism, with several expert professional negligence solicitors working in our firm. Our clients are based not only in Devon and the South West, but throughout the UK and beyond.
Our senior partner, Jan Samuel, described by clients as a "formidable litigator", has been a member of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association for many years, an organisation which lobbies on behalf of clients in relation to issues such as funding arrangements.
Professional negligence claims require the input of highly expert solicitors. This is because negligence is a complex and continually developing field.
If you have been let down by a professional, you should seek advice from a specialist - someone who can put right the problems you have suffered, as well as make a claim for damages and the costs you have incurred.
Contact Us For a Free Discussion About Professional Negligence
If you have been let down by a professional, or if you need advice about whether the mistakes a professional has made amount to negligence, or even if you just require advice about what you should do next in a claim which has already started, contact us for a free legal assessment.
Jan is a litigation heavyweight, with decades of experience in bringing claims against negligent professionals.
What our clients say
I was let down by my previous solicitors, but I felt confident in Samuels from the start. Samuels were superb. They won my case and I could not be more pleased with the outcome. Judith Thompson went out of her way to keep me informed. She is efficient and highly professional as well as being caring and compassionate. I would recommend Samuels to anyone who has been the victim of professional negligence.
We came to Samuels after a long time getting nowhere with our case. They believed in us from the outset and saw our case through to a more than satisfactory conclusion. Samuels gave outstanding support and understanding. We would recommend them.