We all need professional advice at some stage in our lives: whether it is from a mortgage broker when buying a house, a solicitor when setting up a business or an accountant when filing a tax return. Whatever the reason for seeking support, when you go to a professional for help you are entitled to expect good care and to be given advice that is correct and tailored to your needs.
Where the standard of service you receive falls below par, and as a consequence you suffer financial loss or miss out on a lucrative opportunity, then it may be possible for you to obtain redress (typically in the form of compensation) by bringing a claim for professional negligence.
At Geoffrey Leaver, we have a team of experienced dispute resolution and litigation lawyers who can support you to bring a professional negligence claim and who will do everything they can to achieve a satisfactory resolution – in many cases without the need for you to expend large sums of money or to go to court. To find out more, please call 01908 692769 to arrange a consultation.
Professional negligence services
We can assist with professional negligence claims against:
- accountants, auditors and tax advisors;
- financial advisors, mortgage advisors and insurance brokers;
- solicitors, barristers, will writers and conveyancers;
- surveyors and valuers; and
- architects and engineers.
We can also help if you are a professional services firm that is facing a negligence claim.
What is professional negligence?
Professional negligence occurs where:
- you have asked a professional to advise you, or to perform a service;
- the way you have been dealt with falls below expected standards of competence; and
- you have suffered loss as a result – be it money, asset value or a potential opportunity.
How do I bring a professional negligence claim?
There are three stages to bringing a professional negligence claim.
The first is to seek advice from a solicitor who can assess your situation and tell you whether they believe negligence has occurred. The second is to follow the fact-finding and dispute resolution process set out in the Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence, or, where your claim is against an architect, engineer or quantity surveyor, the Construction and Engineering Disputes Protocol. And the third (and last resort) is the instigation of legal proceedings.
Is compliance with the relevant pre-action protocol compulsory?
Compliance with the pre-action protocol process is not compulsory. However, if you choose to skip the protocol that applies to your claim and instead proceed straight to court, then you could be hit with a hefty costs sanction. The same will be true for your opponent where you have attempted to act in accordance with the protocol, but they have refused to engage.
How does the Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence work?
The Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence provides for the following steps to be taken:
- Step 1: you issue a preliminary notice, which informs the professional of your intended claim, outlines your allegations and provides an estimate of how much your claim is worth;
- Step 2: the professional is obliged to acknowledge receipt of your notice within 21 days;
- Step 3: you must then send a detailed letter of claim, usually within the next six months;
- Step 4: this must be acknowledged by the professional within three weeks, and followed up by a formal letter of response which must normally be sent within the next three months;
- Step 5: if the professional wishes to settle your claim, then they are encouraged to issue a further letter detailing their proposals – which you are free to accept, reject or counter-offer;
- Step 6: where settlement cannot be achieved, you need to decide whether the matter should now be referred to court or if it might be better to take an alternative route – like instructing an mediator to help in facilitate negotiations or requesting early neutral evaluation by an impartial lawyer who can give you an idea of how your claim is likely to fare before a judge; and
- Step 7: where the dispute remains unresolved, or where it is otherwise considered appropriate, you may then go ahead and commence proceedings.
Is there a time limit for bringing a professional negligence claim?
Most claims of professional negligence must be brought within six years from the date on which the negligence occurred. However, there are exceptions which mean that this time limit can be extended. This includes where you can show that the negligence was not immediately apparent or that it was not discovered until after the normal six year time limit had already expired.
In this scenario, you will usually have three years from the date on which the negligence was uncovered to instigate a claim – subject to a longstop deadline, which means that no claim can be brought once 15 years have passed from the date on which the negligent event happened.
Why choose Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors?
Our dispute resolution solicitors in Milton Keynes have a proven track record in supporting clients to settle professional negligence claims. They also have an excellent record in winning cases at court where a claim needs to be pursued all the way to a trial.
We have experience in handling claims across a range of sectors and are particularly well-known for dealing with financial mis-selling and negligent investment advice, as well as claims against auditors and construction professionals. One member of our team is also an accredited mediator.
As a business, we are listed as a top tier law firm by The Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, and our solicitors are also variously noted in the same publications as being ‘highly experienced’, ‘exceptional’ and ‘totally committed to obtaining the best possible result.’
To make an appointment to see one of our Professional Negligence Solicitors, Ken Stangoe, Richard Millard, Trevor Coward or Guy Brooks in our dispute resolution and litigation team call on 01908 692769 or contact us.
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What our clients say:
‘’Trevor Coward of Geoffrey Leaver acted for us in a particularly challenging litigation. His tenacity, sound practical advice and tactical approach to the case secured us a very satisfactory outcome.
‘’He is someone you will be glad to have on board when the going gets tough.”
Alan Mills, Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance
For more information about how we can help, you can read testimonials from our dispute resolution clients
Chambers & Partners 2021 notes the team is well-respected and active on a wide range of contractual claims and commercial disputes, including unfair prejudice claims and fraud-related proceedings. Local and international clientele comes from a variety of industry sectors, and also includes private individuals and SMEs. One client commends the “proactive, engaging and considerate” nature of the team.
Chambers & Partners 2020 says ‘Well-respected team active on a wide range of contractual claims and commercial disputes, including unfair prejudice claims and fraud-related proceedings. Local and international clientele comes from a variety of industry sectors, and also includes private individuals and SMEs.’
Legal 500 2020 says ‘Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP’s dispute resolution and litigation practice specialises in commercial property disputes, distribution and agency agreements, debt collection and director, shareholder and partnership disputes. Its work includes dealing with injunctions and freezing orders and work in areas such as insolvency, international trade and IT and e-commerce. Practice head Kenneth Stangoe, Trevor Coward, Guy Brooks and Richard Millard are the key contacts’
The Dispute Resolution & Litigation Team
Ken Stangoe Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689307Ken is Head of the Department. He has over 20 years' experience as a commercial litigator, with a heavy focus on property disputes, including forfeiture actions and applications for relief, right of way disputes, rent recovery for commercial landlords, trusts of land, dilapidations claims, boundary disputes, rent and service charge recovery and lease renewal applications.
Richard Millard Managing Partner
Construction & Development 01908 689382Richard has over 20 years’ experience acting for clients in the construction industry, providing pragmatic advice to developers, contractors, sub-contractors, design and construction professionals, housing associations, smaller builders and homeowners.
Guy Brooks Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689304Guy has more than 30 years’ experience in the legal profession and headed up the Commercial Litigation department of local firm Fennemores, before joining Geoffrey Leaver as joint head of the Dispute Resolution department in 2006. The Dispute Resolution department have been recognised by Legal 500 UK.
Trevor Coward Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689311Trevor specialises in the closely connected fields of commercial litigation, partner/director disputes, insolvency, property litigation, and professional negligence. His background is one of broad experience across a wide range of commercial litigation. He is a member of Legal Counsel International, an alliance of lawyers in 17 countries.