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Making a professional negligence claim can seem intimidating. However, once you find a good solicitor to help you, cases can be settled with the minimum of fuss, and often without going to court.
This is a brief guide to professional negligence claims in the jurisdiction of England & Wales. It is not a substitute for legal advice – each situation is unique, and there is not a 'one size fits all' approach.
What is professional negligence?
What kind of professionals can be negligent?
Examples of professional negligence.
What counts as professional negligence?
Not every case of inadequate or poor service is professional negligence. A solicitor will help you find this out, but for a quick idea you can run through these three checks:
Usually, you can prove you are owed a duty of care through having a written contract or terms and conditions with the professional, or some other written confirmation that you were their customer/client.
Claiming for professional negligence.
Damages are usually calculated with the following in mind.
Letter of Claim:
Letter of Response:
The Letter of Response will either admit the claim – in which case it will also include proposals for settling the matter, such as the amount of damages – or dispute the claim.
If settlement cannot be reached at this point, the claim may escalate to issuing proceedings in court.
Going to Court:
If the matter cannot be settled at the pre-action stage, then it may be necessary to take the case to court.
Once a claim is issued and a defence filed, the court will set a timetable for the stages of the case up until trial. From issuing a claim to the date of the trial can often be well over a year.
Even after cases have started, they can be settled by negotiation or a more formal process such as mediation. Pinney Talfourd has extensive experience of dealing with mediation using the leading mediators.
Costs and funding.
At the beginning of your claim, we can discuss with you if your case would qualify for third party funding. This means that a "funder" would support the claim financially (so you do not have to) in return for a percentage of the damages you might recover.
What happens if I lose?
The loser of the case generally pays the winner's legal fees, as well as their own.
However, you can get a special kind of insurance called After the Event insurance (ATE) to cover you for this potential loss. Pinney Talfourd work with some of the leading funders and ATE providers in the legal marketplace. Please ask for more details.
Remember, all professional negligence cases are different. This guide is a brief overview – it in no way replaces professional legal advice.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your claim with our experts please contact the Commercial Litigation Team who will be able to assist you.
The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Nick Hatchett, Partner in the Commercial Litigation Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of September 2020.