At some point in your life, you may need to rely on solicitors to help with various stages and events.
Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling a house, starting a business, having a will written, or if you need professional legal advice following a problem at work or an accident, solicitors and other legal professionals are vital in helping you ensure all the legal formalities are in check. If you believe your solicitor or another professional has been negligent, call our professional malpractice lawyers now on 0808 164 0808.
What is solicitor negligence?
When you hire a solicitor, the last thing you expect is negligence. Unfortunately, solicitors and other professionals do not always get it right.
There are several common scenarios where a solicitor could let you down. See below for examples of solicitor negligence:
- Failing to meet deadlines for paperwork and other important matters
- Incorrectly valuing your claim
- Failing to collect appropriate evidence for your claim
- Giving advice that is inaccurate
Claims against solicitors are an option for individuals who have unfortunately experienced negligence of this kind.
The general emphasis should be to try and put you back into the position you should have been in before the act of negligence. It is important to remember that unusual advice is not necessarily classified as negligence; it has to be a clear and obvious error, and evident that no other professional in the same circumstances would have acted in that way.
Failing to meet critical deadlines
One of the most common types of solicitor negligence involves missed limitation dates. A limitation date refers to the amount of time an individual has to bring a legal claim from the date they suffered loss or harm.
It is the solicitor’s responsibility to ensure they serve the claim to court in time. Every law firm should have strict measures in place to ensure that all the claims they are running are done so with the time limit in mind. However, good practice processes such as these are not always put in place, or adhered to.
The 1980 Limitation Act
The 1980 Limitation Act sets the time limits applicable to each type of legal claim, including making a claim for compensation.
Although on some rare occasions the court will extend time limits, as a general rule of thumb, civil claims must be served within six years, while personal injury claims should be made within three years from the date of the injury or the diagnosis of the injury, or up to the age of 21 years old for matters involving children.
Professional negligence and solicitor negligence fall under civil claims, meaning firms of solicitors will have to serve these types of claims within six years. An exception is three years from when you knew of the claim.
A solicitor’s duty
It is a solicitor’s duty to ensure that a client is advised on the progress of their case throughout the claim, and to ensure that all the necessary documents needed for court proceedings are submitted on time.
If your claim has been detrimentally effected because of a missed time limit by a solicitor, you may have a claim for professional negligence. Call our professional negligence lawyers on 0808 164 0808 now. Or, you can request a call back and we will call you to discuss your situation.
Incorrectly valuing a claim
A vital part of a solicitor’s role is valuing the claims they work on. Whatever the claim entails, it is essential that a solicitor takes everything into account, including its viability, all economic considerations and any potential risks which may affect the valuation.
If a solicitor undervalues a claim, this may leave the client with less than they rightly deserve, or it could mean that the claim is terminated altogether.
While we appreciate you may be dissatisfied with the outcome of your claim, it is not always the case that it has been under-valued, or under-settled. For this to be true, there must be a significant difference between what was achieved, and what would have been achieved had the claim been valued correctly. The court’s consideration in determining whether there was negligence would be what a competent solicitor would have done under the same circumstances.
If you were to sue a lawyer for negligence regarding a claim valuation, examples of this type of negligence might include:
- Where they have failed to take into consideration all the losses suffered
- Where they have used the wrong means of calculation
- Where they have ignored evidence
- Where they have made an error in the figures.
Any one of these things could have a significant impact on the overall valuation of the case and would be classed as solicitor malpractice.
Failing to collect evidence
Solicitors must obtain all the necessary evidence needed to ensure the claims they are dealing with stand the best chance of succeeding. When preparing a case against the defendant, a solicitor must gather the evidence supporting the claimant’s argument, which may include witness statements and expert evidence.
Missing evidence may refer to any of the following:
- Failing to make proper enquiries
- Failure to obtain evidence demonstrating loss of earnings
- Failure to obtain medical records
- Failing to contact witnesses
- Failure to obtain evidence from the correct expert, or not getting it at all.
Example of gathering evidence:
If the case involves medical negligence, the solicitor must instruct a medical expert to give comments on the individual case. Failing to do this may seriously hinder chances of success, or may pose restrictions on the compensation awarded.
Giving advice that is inaccurate
When you choose a solicitor, you expect their professional training, expertise and experience to be at an adequate level which should help you get the best outcome possible.
When the advice you receive from a solicitor falls short of the required standard, your claim may suffer, or even fail.
Failure to correctly advise on key points of law and misinterpreting information may mean your solicitor has been negligent. To show this, it must be proven that the solicitor in question was providing advice that you would be expected to rely on – perhaps in written form such as a letter – that the advice was wrong, and proof that you suffered financial harm as a result.
Our professional negligence team has a wealth of experience in dealing with the above solicitor negligence actions, as well as claims against other types of legal professionals such as barristers. Our team also has experience in dealing with the following areas:
- Property or estates
- Clinical negligence and personal injury under valuations
- Faulty contract drafting
- Employment law negligence
If you feel that your solicitor has failed to exercise the necessary care and skill in handling your matter, then you may be eligible to bring a claim. Call our professional negligence solicitors on 0808 164 0808 or visit our contact us page for more information.
What to do if a solicitor is negligent
If you believe your solicitor has been negligent, and has as a result caused you financial harm, it’s important to seek legal advice from somewhere else. Suing a lawyer for professional negligence may be the route you’re advised to take, and as such you’ll need legal guidance throughout.
You can call our malpractice negligence lawyers or request a call back, and we will endeavour to call you.
Can I sue a solicitor for negligence?
If you’re unsure about how to sue a solicitor for negligence, as mentioned above it’s imperative that you speak to a legal professional. You can sue solicitors for professional negligence but it’s important to get an understanding of how likely it is your claim will succeed, the steps you’ll need to take, and the timescales in which you need to take them.
What time limits are in place?
To make a claim for solicitor professional negligence, you must be in time, which is known as the ‘professional negligence limitation period’.
Generally, if your solicitor has failed to perform to the professional standards required of them, and you have suffered damage or loss as a result, you have six years from the date of the negligence occurring.
There can be exceptions to this time limit, for example if you were not aware of the negligence until a later date. However it is important to seek legal advice as early as possible to avoid any issues with limitation dates.
How are solicitor negligence claims funded?
Our professional negligence lawyers are happy to discuss fee options with you. We advise clients under a wide range of fee structures including working under:
- an existing legal expenses insurance
- a fixed fee
- traditional hourly rate retainers
- a “No Win, No Fee” basis.
If you’d like more information regarding hiring professional negligence lawyers on a no win, no fee basis, get in touch.
Speak to solicitors specialising in professional negligence
We understand the difficulties that can arise from these types of professional negligence claims against lawyers. It can be awkward, complicated and stressful, which is why our team are dedicated to helping individuals with their claims, every step of the way.