Professional negligence claims are extremely difficult claims to pursue. It means that you have retained a professional for expert advice and assistance and that professional has failed to advise you to the standard that is required and so the advice that you have received is negligent.
Who may be liable for professional negligence?
In a property transaction, claims may arise as follows:
Solicitors – for failing to advise correctly on a purchase
Surveyors – for failing to spot issues with property defects or failure to value correctly
Accountants – for failure to advise correctly on tax issues relating to the purchase
To pursue a claim for professional negligence, you need to find an alternative professional to advise you and take you through the process and establish the aspects of the advice or assistance given which were not good enough and establish that as a result of that poor advice, you have suffered a loss. Often property transactions are the most valuable an individual or company will make and expert advice is required. To have been failed by a professional in these circumstances can cause immense stress as well as financial loss.
Often, it is possible to show that a professional’s advice fell below the standard required, but this does not of itself give rise to a legal claim. In addition, it has to be shown:
a loss has been suffered and how that can be quantified;
the loss must be causatively related to the negligence/breach of duty.
Common incidents of professional negligence
The registration and discharge of mortgages in commercial property transactions are of crucial importance and if a loan against commercial property is discharged incorrectly and the lender is then left without security, that loan must be re-registered but in order to do so, strict compliance with Companies House regulations and company law will be required.
Our property litigation team have had numerous dealings with clients who had instructed surveyors who failed to adequately advise on the condition of large commercial buildings to the appropriate standard. There was even one where it was evident that a building suffered from a structural defect which, when our client came to sell the commercial property, every other surveyor identified immediately.
There is a strict frame work within which any claim for professional negligence must be pursued. The objective of this frame work (referred to as the pre-action protocol) is designed to ensure that both parties provide and disclose information that they intend to rely on in making that claim and in defending it. The objective is to encourage parties to professional negligence claims to have an early dialogue and to explore the opportunity of a settlement without the need and expense of a fully contested claim and Court hearing. Pursuing a claim for professional negligence can be expensive.
Although the objective of the pre-action protocol is good, it can often mean that the significant costs in pursuing a professional negligence claim are incurred from the outset. Often a report from an expert advisor is required to establish that the quality of advice given has fallen short of the duty of care and standard required of that professional.
Our specialist Property Litigation team work with a number of financial and property experts to be able to provide such expert reports and are experienced in advising on a wide range of professional negligence claims.
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