How to Prove Professional Negligence: A short guide

Professional negligence arises when a professional has failed to carry out their responsibilities competently, resulting in harm or loss to their client or patient. Whether it is a negligent solicitor, insurance broker, accountant, financial advisor, or any other professional, individuals depend on their expertise to deliver competent services. Nevertheless, a professional’s failure to fulfill their duties can have significant repercussions.

If you suspect that a professional has not met their obligations to you, you may want to seek advice and assistance from a solicitor specialising in professional negligence. These solicitors possess the necessary expertise to evaluate your legal situation and determine whether you have adequate grounds to pursue a viable claim against a professional.

How to prove professional negligence

Proving professional negligence typically involves several fundamental steps:

  1. Establishing duty of care: Initially, it is essential to confirm that the professional had a duty of care. While this duty is often implied in professional-client relationships, it must be clearly defined based on the specifics of your situation.
  2. Demonstrating breach of duty: Once the duty of care is established, you must be able to show that the professional violated this duty by failing to uphold the expected standard of care in their field. This might involve showcasing errors, omissions, or lapses in judgement that a reasonable professional in the same profession would not have committed.
  3. Establishing causation: It is crucial to establish a direct connection between the professional’s breach of duty and the harm or loss you suffered. This means demonstrating that the negligence directly led to the adverse outcomes you suffered. According to the Pre-Action Protocol for professional negligence, all parties must identify all issues and ensure sufficient evidence is gathered before initiating court proceedings.
  4. Determining damages: Lastly, you need to quantify the loss or damage incurred due to the professional’s negligence. This could include financial losses, emotional distress, physical injuries, or any other adverse consequences stemming from the negligence.

What is the professional negligence claims process?

If you suspect you have been a victim of professional negligence, the first step is typically to consult with a professional negligence solicitor. They will assess your case and advise you on the best course of action.

Before initiating formal legal proceedings, your solicitor will usually send a “Letter of Claim” to the professional (or their insurer) who you believe was negligent. This letter outlines the details of your complaint, including the nature of the negligence alleged and the losses suffered.

The professional or their insurer will have a specified time to acknowledge receipt of the Letter of Claim and investigate the allegations. Both parties are expected to comply with the Pre-action Protocol for Professional Negligence, which encourages early exchange of information and attempts at resolution without going to court.

Your professional negligence lawyer will likely obtain expert evidence to support your claim. This could involve engaging independent professionals in the same field as the defendant to assess whether the standard of care was breached and to quantify any losses suffered as a result.

The professional or their insurer will respond to the Letter of Claim within a specified timeframe. They may admit liability, deny liability, or request further information.

Before proceeding to court, both parties may participate in alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration to attempt to settle the dispute amicably.

If the case proceeds to trial, both parties will present their arguments and evidence before a judge. The judge will make a decision based on the evidence presented and applicable law.

Expert evidence

In proving professional negligence, expert evidence frequently plays a pivotal role. Expert witnesses in the same field as the defendant can provide insights into the standard of care expected, whether this standard was breached, and how the breach caused the claimant’s loss. This evidence is crucial in establishing the professional’s liability.

Time limits for professional negligence claims

The primary limitation period for bringing a professional negligence claim in the UK is typically six years from the date of the negligent act, or from when you first became aware (or should have become aware) that you suffered harm as a result of the negligence.

How can Expert Commercial Law assist?

The solicitors on our panel understand how to prove professional negligence and would be more than happy to assist on your professional negligence case.

Our panel of solicitors have many years of experience in dealing with professional negligence disputes against professional advisors. We have dealt with cases involving professional negligence claims against solicitors, accountants, financial advisors, and much more.

We only connect you with the best solicitors

All of the solicitors on our panel have the experience and expertise required to take on your case. Each solicitor is vetted before being allowed onto our panel and we only select the best in the business. All of our solicitor firms are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Please note we are not a law firm; however, we maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a case, we will pass your case on to a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm.

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Please note, we are not a firm of solicitors; however, we maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case onto a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm. 


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