We rely on the opinions of professionals to help us make important decisions about, for example, our legal and financial affairs. This work can be extremely complex, and if the advice we receive isn’t up to the professional standards that we might expect, then it may be appropriate to pursue a professional negligence claim.
What is professional negligence?
When a professional fails to provide services to the standard required this is professional negligence. An example of this might be receiving financial advice, such as a tax scheme or investment vehicle, that is later shown to be inappropriate. If, for instance, a financial adviser was aware that you had a limited tolerance for risk and you were encouraged to invest in something with considerable attached risks, subsequently losing large amounts of capital, this may be professional negligence.
You may also receive poor advice from a legal professional, an architect, tradesperson, or any other person who has a trusted professional capacity to provide advice and guidance. Professional negligence can be costly, with a range of associated consequences for the individual or company who received the substandard services.
How do you establish professional negligence?
To establish a professional negligence claim four elements need to be proven:
Firstly, it needs to be shown that the professional owed you a duty of care. It has to be established that a relationship existed between the customer and professional to impose a legal obligation to adhere to a standard of care on the latter when providing services. Many professions have an inherent presumption of duty of care.
Secondly, it needs to be shown that the duty of care was breached. This means the professional fell below the professional standards expected of them. It’s not enough to show that a professional hasn’t performed to the best of their abilities. It needs to be proven that they were negligent.
Thirdly, it has to be illustrated and proven that a loss was caused to the client as a result of the negligence. This means proving that without the advice they were given, the client would have reached a different decision and acted accordingly. This can be a complex and involved aspect to prove requiring a detailed understanding of the particular situation. Any grey areas may reduce the chances of a successful outcome to a professional negligence claim, so a legal professional will fully investigate the details prior to pursuing a claim.
Finally, the loss that was suffered by the client needs to have been reasonably foreseeable. This means proving that professionals should have reasonable insight into the likely outcome if the advice they offered was followed.
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Professional negligence disputes may need to be resolved through civil litigation. Richardson Lissack provides comprehensive civil litigation services to our clients, on professional negligence issues.
Contact us today to discuss your case in confidence.