Professional Negligence Against a Solicitor
Posted on 9th January 2021 at 11:25
When we hire the services of a solicitor we tend to take a few things for granted. Firstly, we expect them to be qualified and have a sound knowledge of the law. Secondly, we expect them to do a professional job and get things done on time and to a high standard. Thirdly, we expect them to do their best for us as clients at all times.
As with any service of this kind, however, negligence does occur and it happens more often than many people think, for example a solicitor may fail to submit paperwork to the Court in time, so that your claim is struck out by the Court.
It might seem counter-intuitive to seek the advice of another solicitor if this happens, but that’s exactly what you should be doing. At DSM Legal, we can help you put together a claim for compensation where you have a case for professional negligence against a solicitor.
What is Solicitors Professional Negligence?
There are three factors to take into account when deciding whether your solicitor has been negligent.
Duty of Care
Does your solicitor have a duty of care towards you? If you have engaged a solicitor to advise you or carry out work on your behalf then yes, your solicitor owes you a duty of care.
Breach of Duty
If your solicitor breaches his or her duty of care by failing to reach a standard of care expected of the profession, then they are negligent.
In order to claim compensation, you must have suffered financial loss due to the solicitor’s negligent act or omission. This is known as causation. Any loss must also be reasonably foreseeable and not too remote. Sometimes the loss can be for loss of opportunity (e.g. if you are unable to pursue your claim because Court proceedings were not issued in time by your solicitor).
Many solicitors specialise in a certain area such as personal injury, whilst others might concentrate on wills and probate or family or employment law. All these areas can be quite complex and dealing with a particular legal problem is not always straightforward.
Mistakes do get made for a variety of reasons but when does that tip over into professional negligence?
Here are some examples where you may want to make a professional negligence against a solicitor:
You hire a solicitor to make a personal injury claim on your behalf and the claim is struck out because your solicitor has failed to comply with a Court Order.
Your solicitor has missed a time limit, and you are unable to proceed with your claim, for example in breach of contract claims your solicitor has 6 years to issue Court proceedings whereas in personal injury claims, including medical negligence the time limit is 3 years. If this happens your claim will have become statute-barred.
A solicitor handling your conveyancing fails to get documentation in on time so that it costs you money or the sale of a property or misses important information about planning permission or building regulations.
A solicitor handling probate fails to carry out the deceased’s wishes according to their will.
Your solicitor has not advised properly on the costs you are likely to incur from legal action
You may have been ordered to pay your opponent’s costs but do not have insurance to cover this. If your solicitor has not asked you about any pre-existing insurance you may have and has failed to advise you about after the event insurance to cover such an eventuality then you may have a claim against them.
The solicitor makes errors in drafting a contract or sues the wrong defendant when handling a claim.
Solicitors are required to have professional indemnity insurance in place to cover the cost of potential claims and any legal action taken against them for negligence, without which they cannot practice.
Mistakes can occur in practically any type of legal action whether it’s wills and probate, corporate law, medical negligence, personal injury or some any other area of law.
Making a Claim for Solicitors Professional Negligence
Taking a solicitor to court because they did a bad job can seem a little daunting. If you have been disadvantaged by the negligence of your legal team it is important to find out where you stand and what your options are.
As in all areas of litigation, there are strict limitation periods for making a claim. In professional negligence claims Court proceedings must be issued within 6 years of the date of the negligent act or omission. Although there are rare circumstances under which the limitation can be extended you should not delay in taking professional advice.
Contacting another solicitor about professional negligence can seem daunting, but the good news is that DSM Legal has considerable experience at dealing with this type of claim and will be able to help you gather your evidence and put your case for compensation.
The first thing to consider is whether you have a claim for solicitors’ professional negligence at all. Sometimes it is obvious that a solicitor has been negligent, eg if they have missed a deadline, but sometimes the line between poor service and negligence can be very fine. Your solicitor should always advise you to take independent legal advice if they consider that they have been negligent.
On the other hand if your solicitor is still acting for you and you unhappy with the way in which your solicitor is handling your case, e.g. not returning calls, or failing to keep you up to date, then you should complain using the firm’s complaints procedure.
It is important to ensure that you always keep records of interactions with your solicitor, eg letters and emails, as it will make things easier to prove if you believe there has been a breach of their duty of care. The value of any claim will vary depending on your losses.
How DSM Legal Can Help
DSM Legal are professional solicitors based in Warrington, Cheshire with the knowledge and experience required to deal with this type of claim. If you feel you have sustained loss because of your lawyers’ negligence, we offer a free initial telephone consultation to assess a potential case. If, following that initial call we believe that your case has sufficient merits we will investigate further on a 'No Win No Fee' basis.
No Win No Fee is a conditional fee arrangement which means you don’t have to pay legal fees upfront. If the case is settled in your favour, our success fee is taken out as a percentage of the final settlement. If the case is not settled in your favour, however, then you don’t have to pay fees.
At DSM Legal, we understand the impact that poor legal advice or a bad service can have on individuals and organisations. It’s important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible if you feel that your solicitor has not provided the professional service that you quite reasonably expected.
For a free telephone consultation to find out where you stand, contact DSM Legal Solicitors today on 01925 937070 to discuss your options.
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