What is Professional Negligence?
Businesses and individuals rely on the advice of professionals in a variety of sectors to deal with issues that may be outside their area of expertise. This can range from legal to financial advice and most of the time the advice is of a good standard. However, when professional advice falls below what is considered an acceptable standard this may be considered professional negligence.
The test that the courts will apply establishing if a professional has acted
negligence is threefold:
1. Firstly, the professional must have owed the affected
individual or business a duty of care.
2. Secondly, the professional must have breached that duty
3. The affected individual must have suffered some form of
measurable loss or damage.
Most professionals will have a general duty to ensure that their advice does not fall below what is considered an acceptable standard for their field of work.
Expert evidence is vitally important in determining whether a professional has acted negligently and any successful professional negligence claim will be
supported by expert evidence. For example, if negligence is alleged against an engineer for design faults in a machine, only another suitably qualified
engineer can assess whether or not their work has fallen below what is
considered an acceptable standard and could be considered as negligent.
Types of Professional Negligence
· Architects – Professional negligence claims against
architects generally arise when a problem arises with the design of a building
or structure. Common failures that have been identified by experts include the
provision of incorrect or unsuitable drawings, careless approval of below
standard works and failing to provide adequate supervision.
· Engineers – The engineering sector has professional
bodies which regulate standards of work. Claims against engineers can relate to
design failures or mistakes which result in expensive rectification works and
significant financial losses.
· Quantity Surveyors – The valuation of properties or developments
is not an exact science. Nonetheless, if a surveyor is deemed to have provided
a valuation that is well outside what is considered reasonable, they may have
acted negligently. If a client has suffered losses due to a surveyor
overvaluing a property, they may be able to recover the difference between the
purchase price and the correct value of the property.
· Accountants – Claims against accountants commonly arise out
of poor tax advice or accountancy errors which result in financial losses for
businesses or individuals. These cases can be complex and will require a report
from an expert accountant.
· Financial Advisers – Like any other professional financial
advisers will be subject to practice regulations. Professional negligence cases
against financial advisers most commonly arise in relation to improper
investment advice which is high risk and fails to take in to account an
investors best interests.
· Insurance Brokers – professional negligence claims against
insurance companies are becoming more common. They most often relate to
failures to properly advise on appropriate cover for a client, failure to renew or change policies when instructed to do so and failure to provide an adequate
level of cover.
How We Can Help
As mentioned above, successful professional negligence claims are heavily reliant on supportive expert evidence. The role of your solicitor will be to appoint the relevant experts and gather evidence in support of your case. If the defendant accepts liability, then there is a good possibility that an out of court settlement could be reached. If liability is in dispute or an appropriate figure cannot be agreed, then the matter will proceed to Trial and the Court will make a decision based on the evidence.
Our expert dispute resolution solicitors are highly experienced in all aspects of professional negligence claims in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
All initial enquiries are free and we will discuss the funding options which are available to our client’s, including Legal Aid, legal expenses cover and private paying.