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Professional Negligence

Professional negligence involves making a claim against a professional adviser.  Whilst we can advise on all types of professional advice, the most common claims relate to advice provided by solicitors, accountants, brokers, financial advisors and surveyors or valuers.

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Our Approach to Professional Negligence Cases

In order to provide advice on any potential claim, our specialist team of professional negligence lawyers will carefully examine all paperwork and files from your professional adviser. Difficulties can arise if any fees are outstanding as files may not be readily available. Our team will also examine any terms and conditions and contracts to determine what obligations your adviser had agreed to and in turn what responsibilities are due to you by them as their client.

Using our experience and examining to this level of detail will allow us to gauge the likelihood of success in each case, avoiding unnecessary fees being incurred where the claim is unlikely to succeed.

If we assess the claim to be valid and as having good potential to succeed, we will then discuss next steps including how the case can be funded.

Cases of professional negligence can, unfortunately, take some time to conclude given the intricacies of proving that an advisor has not fulfilled their role correctly and the volumes of evidence often required. Our team has successfully advised on numerous cases against professional advisors and have a wealth of experience in this area of law and several of our lawyers are members of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association. 

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Solicitor Negligence

When instructing a solicitor, you are expecting to deal with someone who has a full understanding of the area of law in which they are advising and can provide specialist advice.  If your solicitor has provided negligent or inaccurate advice or has not provided the advice they should have done, you may be able to claim against them for professional negligence.  This includes advice in relation to:

  • your assets and estate from probate solicitors
  • your divorce or family matters from specialist family lawyers
  • property transactions and related loans and mortgages
  • your business if you have bought or sold part or all of it
  • your brand if your lawyers have not advised you correctly on how to protect it

Surveyor/Valuer Negligence

Most people, both individuals and businesses alike, will use the services of a surveyor at some point.  You may engage a surveyor to carry out a valuation of a property or to undertake an inspection and survey of a property.  Problems could occur if a surveyor values the property incorrectly or if they have failed to spot or inform you of a defect or issue with the property following a survey.

In these scenarios, depending on the instructions you have given the surveyor and their scope of work, it could be deemed that the surveyor has acted negligently.  Being clear about the scope is crucial as, for instance, the surveyor will have a greater duty of care to you if a full building survey has been requested rather than a simple mortgage valuation report.

Negligence by a surveyor can lead to their client overpaying for a property or being liable for significant repairs which were not picked up such as a damp or issues with a roof. 

Accountant/Auditor Negligence

As a business owner or an individual with a more complex financial situation, taking specialist advice in relation to your financial assets is commonplace.  Accountants and auditors are of course regulated and follow codes of practice when advising clients but what happens if the advice you receive is negligent or you are not made aware of specific issues which may have an effect on your tax liability or otherwise?  In some cases, there may even have been fraudulent activity taking place without your knowledge. 

Our team of experienced professional negligence solicitors can advise you on a range of issues including pursing auditors for defective auditing and accountants for negligent accountancy and tax advice.

Broker Negligence

Insurance brokers are used to establish the most beneficial insurance policies, sometimes for specialist cover, to protect you against particular scenarios and liabilities including theft, flooding, fire, negligence and health and safety issues.  Brokers receive commission from insurance companies when they sell their products to clients and act as an intermediary.  They can also support clients if they need to make a claim on a policy.

Brokers are responsible for ensuring that their client’s interests are protected and that all relevant information is passed to the insurance company to allow them to provide appropriate cover.  Your broker could be negligent if they:

  • Do not arrange or renew a policy as instructed by you
  • Arrange a policy which doesn’t cover the full amount required or all risks needed
  • Do not share all relevant information with the insurance company
  • Do not liaise effectively with the underwriter in relation to a new claim

Financial Advisor Negligence

Managing your investments and financial assets is often complicated with many people relying on a financial advisor for support.  A financial advisor may advise you on a range of products including pensions, stocks and shares, annuities and other investment platforms.  All financial advisors have a duty of care and should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Despite tight regulation, the advice you receive may not have been appropriate for your circumstances and a financial advisor could be found negligent in a number of scenarios including:

  • Advising on inappropriate financial products for your needs
  • Recommending expensive investments or products which are not suitable or required
  • Advocating schemes for avoiding tax which are not appropriate or legal
  • Advising clients to invest in high risk products which are not suitable for their personal circumstances
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How Can You Make a Claim for Professional Negligence?

Claims of this type are often complicated and it is important to take specialist advice as soon as possible to establish if you have a potentially valid claim. 

In most cases the professional advisor will have an insurance policy which will provide for a specialist lawyer to defend the claim.  There are a number of key restrictions on professional negligence claims including:

  • Being able to prove that a financial loss has been suffered as a result of the advice (or lack of it)
  • Ensuring a claim is brought in time as there are strict time limits on claims of this nature

Contact a member of the BPE Litigation team for advice and support for your specific situation.

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