Professional people have a duty of care to their clients and if this duty of care is breached and this results directly in financial loss or damage to their client then it may raise a professional negligence claim. To do this you will find it essential to engage a specialist legal firm with experience of these complex and challenging cases. Expatriate.co.uk partner lawyers are experts at handling these types of cases and will help you secure the compensation you deserve. To contact them simply complete the enquiry form provided.
Proving professional negligence
To be successful you must prove that professional negligence has taken place and there are three distinct areas that you will need to address.
- Duty of care – You must prove that the professional in question owed you a duty of care. If there is a contractual agreement between the professional and the client this can be used as evidence of this duty of care. In some cases there may not be a written agreement or contract to fall back on but if the professional has claimed to have particular expertise and is offering advice to a client then it can be assumed that they have this duty of care.
- Breach of duty – You must prove that the professionals actions breached that duty of care by falling below the standard a client could reasonably expect of a competent professional. It is important to make the distinction here between wrong advice and negligent advice as it can be challenging to prove that negligence took place if the professional can claim that their advice or actions were the result of a difference in opinion. If the professional demonstrates that they acted in a way that their professional body approves of they may not be found to be negligent.
- Causation and financial loss -The third and possibly the most important issue for successful claimants to prove is that they suffered some form of financial loss as a direct result of the negligence. If you experienced a financial loss but cannot definitively tie it to the negligence of a professional you may not have a successful claim. Equally, if you received negligent advice but this did not cause you any financial or other loss you may not have a successful claim.
It’s also important to be able to prove that the negligence was a key factor in causing the financial loss. Often the loss is caused by a combination of factors so the claimant has to prove that professional negligence was either the main cause or a significant cause of the loss. If the loss was due partly to the professional’s negligence and partly to the clients own actions the court may reduce the value of the damages to reflect the fact that the client is partly to blame for the losses he has incurred.
Once this link between negligence and loss is proven, attention will turn to the value of your loss. For example if a surveyor were to significantly undervalue the price of a property and their client goes on to sell at this lower price the court would calculate the loss based on the true market value of the property at the time. Note that the claimant has a duty to try and keep their losses to a minimum. This is called mitigation and if the claimant can do something to reduce the amount of their loss they should do so
Professional negligence associated with property
Buying or selling a property is one of the biggest transactions you’ll make in your life and it would be reasonable to expect your solicitor to handle your transaction with due care and attention. Where this does not happen you could suffer financial loss. Here are some of the more common areas of negligence.
Professional negligence relating to solicitors
- Title – A defective title could cause the title to be declared invalid which could place doubt on who is the true owner of the property.
- Leases – Leases are binding legal documents and need careful wording. If your solicitor has made an error in drafting a lease it could leave a loophole for a tenant to escape the tenancy or get away without paying rent.
- Co-ownership – incorrectly given advice could jeopardise the entire transaction and leave you with no real claim to the property.
- Exchange of contracts – were your solicitor to go ahead and exchange contracts without your agreement to do so you would become liable to purchase the property.
Professional negligence relating to architects, estate agents, surveyors and mortgage advisers.
All of the above professionals could play an important role when handling a property transaction. Were they to get it wrong you could find yourself suffering a very serious financial loss. Here are some common negligence situations.
- Architect plans – if the plans for building a property are defective they can compromise the construction or development of an entire property and lead to financial loss and possibly health and safety concerns.
- Sales particulars – if an estate agent fails to properly market your property and as a consequence you fail to find a buyer you may be able to make a professional negligence claim on the grounds that you are losing money while waiting to make the sale.
- Surveyors – surveyors are expected to give accurate advice on market values of property. If a surveyor values a property at more than 10-15% above or below the correct value they could be found to be acting negligently.
- Tenant references – A tenant without proper references could put a landlord at risk of fraud or financial loss. If a letting agent is managing a lease and has failed to obtain the required references their client could hold them to account for professional negligence.
- Mortgage advisers – mortgage advisers have a duty to provide you with advice on the financial arrangements for financing a property and they must follow the guidelines set by their regulator the financial conduct authority. When they have failed in that duty you could suffer financial loss and would be entitled to make a complaint. The financial ombudsman service can arbitrate any dispute and order compensation to be paid. Note that expat BTL properties and HMO properties used for business purposes are not as yet fully covered by the FCA.-
If you have experienced any of the above issues or believe a professional provider has acted negligently in any way then you may be due compensation. Expatriates.co.uk partner lawyers understand the issues around professional negligence and can guide you through the procedures to ensure that you receive the compensation you are due.