Unfortunately there are a number of cases where poor or careless advice can have adverse consequences. Professional advisors are expected to exercise care and skill in carrying out their work. There may be a claim for compensation if it can be established that another experienced professional in the same field would have offered different advice or if it can be proven that the advisor in question failed to adhere to the usual standards of practice in their field.
There is a Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol set by the court to be followed in these claims. Essentially this provides as follows:
- The Claimant sends a detailed letter of claim which summarises the facts of the claim, and the loss incurred, and confirms whether an expert has been appointed. For example, in an accountant’s negligence claim, whether another independent accountant’s opinion is relied upon. Any relevant documents have to be disclosed. There must be a request that the letter is sent immediately to professional indemnity insurers.
- Within 3 months, the Defendant professional has to respond to the allegations and/or make an offer of settlement.
The purpose of the Protocol is to avoid court proceedings for negligence, if possible. In practice most professionals carry professional indemnity insurance and the Protocol response is usually from their insurers, or from solicitors appointed on their behalf.
If there is a difficulty in complying within 3 months, the problem should be explained along with what steps are being taken to resolve it, and a new time proposed. The Claimant should agree any reasonable request for an extension.
The Protocol has teeth insofar as if it is not followed by the Defendant (or their insurers) costs penalties can be made against him even if in court he wins, and vice versa for the Claimant. A Claimant will not be criticised by the court if he issues proceedings when, after appropriate extensions, the Defendant fails to respond under the Protocol.
Professional negligence cases are usually highly technical and should not be tackled without professional assistance. We offer a concessionary fixed fee for initial advice in this area – please contact us for details.