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Dispute Resolution for Individuals

Professional Negligence Claims Against Solicitors

Chun Wong
Partner
Claire Kitchen
Partner
Ruhul Ameen
Partner
Michael Kilbane
Senior Associate
Brenel Menezes
Associate
Stuart Miles
Solicitor

When you go to a solicitor for help you have the right to expect a reasonable quality of service. In most cases, solicitors and their clients enjoy good working relationships and get to a satisfactory result. But when a solicitor makes a mistake, the knock-on effects can be serious and expensive, so you may have a claim for professional negligence.

Examples of solicitor professional negligence include:

  • Missing important time limits
  • Under-settling a claim
  • Poorly drafted wills, resulting in hardship or losses
  • Bad advice resulting in additional and unnecessary costs
  • Failing to advise on a property transaction correctly
  • Failing to properly draft and serve documents

What happens when you contact us?

  • Contact our professional negligence legal team

Our team will explain the process to you, take down your details and look at how we may be able to assist.

  • Representation

Once we have the details we need, we’ll be able to confirm whether we’re able to help you with your matter. If so, we’ll allocate you the specialist solicitor best suited to your case, who’ll be able to assist you.

 

  • Strategy & Resolution

Your lawyer will work with you to come up with a strategy tailored to your needs and the outcome you would like. We understand how important peace of mind is, so we’ll be fully transparent with you and discuss the funding options available.

 

Our experienced Professional Negligence solicitors can assist. Get in touch with us on
or request a call back.

Client case studies: solicitor professional negligence

Settlement negotiated with solicitors who missed the deadline

Our client instructed solicitors to extend a lease. They failed to comply with the deadline for service of the counter-notice. As a result, our client entered into a lease which had no protection under the 1954 Act. Although we had to issue proceedings, a settlement was negotiated.

Damages: over £50,000 plus legal costs

 

Liability admitted to client by previous solicitors

Our client purchased a property with the right to extend the lease assigned to him. Our client’s solicitors failed to protect or advance the right to extend the lease and the original notice was deemed withdrawn. 

We were instructed to start the process again. We wrote a letter of claim to the conveyancing solicitors. Liability was admitted and a sum for compensation (over £10,000) was paid to our client, with relatively minimal costs by us and without the need to even issue proceedings.

Damages: Over £10,000

Frequently asked questions

I instructed a solicitor to make a claim, but they failed to issue the claim within the time limit. Is there anything I can do?

If you have instructed a solicitor to make a claim on behalf of your business and they failed to do so within the timeframe allowed, and all subsequent efforts to claim have been rejected, you may have a professional negligence claim. 

In such cases, you would be required, as the claimant, to show that the solicitor’s negligence has caused your business to suffer a loss. It’s also important to remember that the court trying the professional negligence action can usually only speculate about the outcome of the original proceedings. 

This means the solicitor is liable for your loss of the chance of winning, if the court assesses your prospect of success and the potential value of the claim missed.

I feel my solicitor settled a claim for less than it was worth. Can I pursue a claim against them?

When you instruct a solicitor to pursue a claim for damages on behalf of your business, you rely on the solicitor to advise you on what losses you can claim and what these losses are worth. If they have neglected to include certain aspects of your claim, you may be able to claim for professional negligence.

I was successful in a claim against a builder who carried out work on my property. The builder failed to pay and my solicitor found out he has sold his assets and cannot be traced. Can I pursue a claim against my solicitor for the damages?

Unfortunately in some cases obtaining an order or settlement is only half the battle as it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive a payment. With all litigation there is a risk that a defendant cannot or will not pay damages even if ordered to do so. In this case, we would have to consider the circumstances of the claim, the conduct of the parties to date, and what investigations had been carried out to establish what (if any) assets the builder had.

If it was anticipated that the builder may try to avoid making a payment, then it may have been possible to obtain some security (i.e. a charge over any property he owned) for the amount due to be paid to you. However, if he did not have any assets then this would not be possible. If your solicitor knew that the builder was likely to dispose of his assets to avoid payment, then they should have advised you of your options in order to preserve your position. Equally, when the builder failed to make payment, consideration should have been given to what steps could be taken to enforce the order or agreement. 

These cases are not clear cut and we suggest you contact us so we can talk through your options with you.

A commercial tenant breached the terms of their lease. As a landlord, what can I do?

If your leaseholder has breached the terms of the agreement they have with you, you may be able to make a claim in county court. In such a case, you can seek an injunction against the tenant. The ultimate sanction would be to look for the tenant to forfeit the lease.

Can I get help with a small claim?

Unfortunately, our commercial dispute resolution team does not normally act for clients in small claims. 

A small claim is one which is valued up to a total of £10,000. If defended, it is usually heard in county court. In these cases, the court will rarely order the losing party to pay the winning party’s solicitor’s fees. As a result, we do not generally represent clients in claims of less than £10,000, because we appreciate that the legal costs can become too much when weighed up against the likely benefit, including the amount of compensation.

Where we can help you is with advice. We can help your business draft a claim form or a defence depending on whether you are claimant or defendant. We can also provide general advice regarding court procedures, including what you need to prepare.

When should I seek advice from a dispute resolution lawyer?

As commercial dispute resolution experts, we recommend that you always seek advice as soon as possible, protecting your business against escalating claims in the best way possible. 

Once we have had an opportunity to meet with you to find out all the relevant facts about your case, as well as considering all the key documents and correspondence, we will be able to assess whether you have a strong case or not.

From there, we can advise on whether your business should pursue a claim or not. In these cases, we would advise you not to pursue the claim, and instead seek to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible. 

Ultimately, we try our best to get the best result for you. And you can rest assured that your business is in good hands with one of our expert commercial dispute resolution solicitors, who will help you throughout the duration of your case.

Should I instruct a lawyer to enforce a debt owed to my business?

It’s not always advisable to instruct a lawyer to enforce a debt owed to your business. For example, if the debt is below £10,000 and you issue court claims, you are only likely to receive limited fixed costs. 

In these cases, we would advise seeking one-off advice and help from a commercial dispute resolution expert, who can help you complete court forms or draft a template letter. 

In cases where your business is owed more than £10,000, it is worthwhile to instruct a dispute resolution solicitor, as you will be awarded legal costs if the case goes to court.

What should I do if I receive a statutory demand?

If you receive a statutory demand to pay a creditor, there are a number of steps you need to take, which starts with sending a pre-action letter, before you go to court. Get in touch with our commercial dispute resolution lawyers for help every step of the way when handling a statutory demand.

Further Reading
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"YOUR EXPLANATIONS AND CONTEXTUALISING OF A LOT OF THE PROCESSES HAVE REALLY HELPED. YOU HAVE BEEN EXCELLENT AND I COULDN’T HAVE HOPED FOR BETTER ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION."

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