Negligence claims against solicitors - FAQ

At times of high stress and tension, many people rely on solicitors to provide advice and reassurance. When hiring a solicitor, you put your complete faith in them, trusting them on matters of law and litigation and it can be devastating to find out that the advice you’ve received has been erroneous or, worse still, financially damaging. In such situations, it may be possible to bring about a case of negligence against your original solicitor.


What constitutes negligence?


Put simply, professional surveyor negligence on the part of a solicitor could be any mistake which no competent professional should make, usually resulting in some sort of financial damage or disadvantage to you or another party. Your solicitor has a duty of care to you, and you may well be entitled to compensation for any financial loss you sustain as the result of the negligence of your solicitor.


This can include a solicitor undersettling claims, missing filing dates, causing your claim to be struck out by a court, failing to identify issues or otherwise causing problems or failing to identify problems which go on to cause you financial losses.


What type of solicitors can be claimed against?


Wherever negligence has occurred, you have a right to claim compensation for any financial loss you have incurred. This might be from a personal injury claim, a commercial property case, divorce, will settlement, employment tribunal or any other kind of legal process in which your solicitor is deemed to have acted negligently, causing you financial loss.


What is the difference between negligence and poor service?


This is an important distinction to make, as poor service is not adequate grounds for which to bring about a legal claim against a solicitor. Delays in service, for example, would be considered to be inadequate service but not negligence. If the delays are serious and lead to clear financial loss, however, it may well be considered to be negligence and a claim against the solicitor can be made.


In the case of poor service, you may well still be entitled to compensation. By speaking to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO), you can explain your case and seek a resolution. The LeO has the power to award compensation against your original solicitor in the case of inadequate service, but more far-reaching allegations of negligence will require a legal claim to be initiated.


What are the time limits for bringing about a professional negligence claim?


As in most forms of professional negligence, you have six years from the date of the negligent act or the date from which you began to suffer financial loss in which to bring about your professional negligence claim. It may still be possible to claim after this time, but it is strongly recommended that you instruct a firm of professional negligence solicitors as quickly as possible so the matter can be resolved while it is still fresh.


How long will the process take?


As in any legal cases, this can vary massively. If liability is accepted by your original suing solicitors in the first instance, this can be quite quick with a speedy and amicable resolution. If liability is denied and expert witnesses are required, the length of time taken to resolve a case is fairly open. The main reason for this is that no two cases are the same, and each needs to be judged on its individual merits. The overriding concern is that the case is settled fairly and given the time and dedication it requires for this to happen.


Appointing a solicitor to represent you

Making sure you have the right solicitor on your side is important. The negligent solicitor will be represented by their insurer – who in turn will instruct a solicitor who specialises in professional negligence claim against solicitors. You need to make sure you also have a specialist on your side – so when appointing a law firm, look for a solicitor who concentrates on professional negligence work.