Professional negligence claim against surveyor
What is professional negligence?
Professional negligence in the UK refers to a situation where a professional, such as a lawyer, surveyor, architect, doctor, or other qualified individual, fails to perform their duties to the expected standard of care. This failure can result in harm, loss, or damage to their client or a third party.
To establish a claim for professional negligence in the UK, the claimant typically needs to demonstrate the following elements:
- Duty of Care: The professional owed a duty of care to the claimant. This means that the professional had a legal obligation to provide services with a certain level of skill and care.
- Breach of Duty: The professional failed to meet the standard of care expected in their profession. This could involve an error in judgment, a failure to follow established procedures, or a lack of competence.
- Causation: The breach of duty directly caused the loss, harm, or damage suffered by the claimant. The claimant must show that, had it not been for the professional’s negligence, the harm would not have occurred.
- Damages: The claimant suffered a financial loss or harm as a result of the professional’s negligence in order to bring a claim for compensation. This can include monetary losses, damage to property, or other tangible consequences.
Professional negligence claims can be complex and typically require expert testimony to establish both the standard of care and the breach of that standard. These cases are usually heard in the civil courts, and if successful, the claimant may be entitled to financial compensation for their losses.
It’s important to note that each profession may have its own specific standards and codes of conduct, which can influence what constitutes professional negligence in that particular field. Additionally, the law surrounding professional negligence can evolve, so it’s always advisable to seek legal advice from a qualified professional if you believe you have a claim.
Professional negligence claim against surveyor examples
A compensation claim for surveyor negligence can be brought for a number of reasons, some of which may include the following:
- Failure to identify structural issues: A property or building surveyor is hired to conduct a structural survey on a commercial or residential property. However, they may fail to identify significant structural issues such as foundation problems or a compromised roof. As a result, the buyer purchases the property without being aware of these issues, leading to substantial repair costs after moving in.
- Incorrect boundary assessment: A surveyor is tasked with determining the boundary lines of a property. Due to an error in measurements or misinterpretation of land documents, the surveyor marks the boundary lines incorrectly. This mistake results in a dispute between neighbouring property owners over land ownership and usage rights.
- Inaccurate valuation reports: A property valuer is engaged to assess the market value of a commercial property for a loan application. The valuer significantly underestimates the property’s value, leading the lender to approve a loan amount that is far below the property’s true worth. The property owner later faces financial difficulties due to the inadequate loan amount.
- Undisclosed environmental issues: During an environmental survey of a piece of land, a surveyor fails to identify or report the presence of hazardous materials, such as asbestos or contaminated soil. The property buyer discovers these issues after purchasing the land and is faced with substantial clean up and remediation costs.
- Negligent lease assessment: A surveyor is hired to assess the terms of a commercial lease agreement for a tenant. If the surveyor fails to identify unfavourable clauses, such as onerous repair and maintenance obligations, it may lead the tenant to enter into a lease that places undue financial burdens on them.
- Misleading easement information: A property owner hires a surveyor to provide information about easements or rights of way on their land. The surveyor provides inaccurate or incomplete information, resulting in the property owner facing legal disputes with neighbours or local authorities over access rights.
- Failure to identify planning restrictions: A property surveyor fails to identify existing planning restrictions or future development plans that affect the value and potential use of a property. The buyer later discovers that they are unable to carry out their intended development plans due to the undisclosed restrictions.
Making a professional negligence claim against surveyor
Surveyor negligence compensation claims in the UK involve several steps. Outlined below is a general overview of the process:
- Consult a Solicitor:
Seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in professional negligence claims. They will assess the merits of your case and guide you through the process. Expert Commercial Law can assist by connecting you with a professional negligence solicitor with expertise in surveyor negligence cases.
2. Gather Evidence:
Collect all relevant documents, including the original survey report, correspondence with the surveyor, contracts, and any other evidence that supports your claim
3. Establish Duty of Care and Breach:
Your solicitor will help determine if the surveyor owed you a duty of care and if this duty was breached. They will typically engage an expert witness, often another surveyor, to evaluate the quality of the surveyor’s work and whether it fell below the standard expected.
4. Causation and Damages:
You need to demonstrate that the surveyor’s negligence directly caused you financial loss or harm. This may require further expert testimony to establish a causal link.
5. Pre-Action Protocol:
Before initiating formal legal proceedings, your solicitor may send a Letter of Claim to the surveyor, outlining the allegations of negligence and the losses incurred. This is part of the pre-action protocol designed to encourage resolution without going to court.
6. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):
Both parties may agree to try alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, to resolve the matter outside of court.
7. Issuing Court Proceedings:
If ADR is unsuccessful, your solicitor will prepare and file the necessary court documents to initiate legal proceedings. The court will then set a timetable for the case.
8. Discovery and Exchange of Evidence:
Both parties will disclose relevant documents and evidence, and may submit witness statements
9. Expert Evidence:
Expert witnesses may be called upon to provide their opinions on the standard of care and whether it was breached.
10. Settlement Negotiations:
At various points in the process, there may be opportunities for settlement negotiations. This could lead to an out-of-court settlement.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. The judge will evaluate the evidence presented and make a decision.
The judge will issue a judgment, either in favour of the claimant (if negligence is proven) or in favour of the surveyor (if not).
13. Enforcement of Judgment:
If the judgment is in your favour, you may need to take further steps to enforce it, such as obtaining a court order for payment.
Keep in mind that every case is unique, and the specifics can vary. It’s crucial to consult with a qualified solicitor who can provide advice tailored to your particular situation.
Claims for professional negligence must generally be brought within certain time limits, known as the limitation period. In the UK, this period is typically six years from the date of the negligent act or omission, or three years from the date the claimant became aware (or should have become aware) of the negligence, whichever is later.
The cost of making a professional negligence claim can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the case.
- No win, no fee: Some solicitors may offer a “no win, no fee” arrangement, also known as a conditional fee agreement (CFA). This means that you will not have to pay the solicitor’s fees if your claim is unsuccessful.
- Legal expenses insurance: If you have legal expenses insurance, this may cover the cost of your claim.
- Hourly rates: If you do not have a no win, no fee arrangement or legal expenses insurance, you will need to pay the solicitor’s fees on an hourly basis. Hourly rates can vary greatly, depending on the solicitor’s experience and expertise.
- Disbursements: You will also need to cover the cost of any disbursements, such as court fees, expert reports, and other expenses incurred in the course of the claim. This may be covered if your case is bases on a conditional fee agreement. Costs and funding agreements will be discussed with you by your solicitor at the outset of your case.
How can Expert Commercial Law assist?
We only connect you with the best solicitors
All of the professional negligence 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).
The solicitors on our panel can provide quality legal advice throughout your claim to help you achieve the best outcome possible. .
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 an injunction query or a commercial law 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 your case to a panel firm.
Schedule Your Free Consultation
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.