Financial & Legal News

Solicitor Negligence: What You Need to Know

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Every professional must operate to a reasonable industry standard; solicitors are no exception. If you have entered into a contract with a solicitor or if a solicitor has simply assumed responsibility for providing you with advice which you have chosen to rely on, you may be in a strong position bring a negligence claim against that solicitor if, as a result of given advice, you have suffered a loss.

What is solicitor negligence?

Like many professionals, solicitors owe a duty of care to their clients, i.e. a solicitor must fulfil the responsibilities of their role with reasonable care and to a reasonable standard. When a solicitor fails to exercise reasonable care, or their conduct falls below a reasonable standard, it is likely that they have been negligent. How can we tell whether a solicitor has been negligent? A non-exhaustive list of indicative behaviour would include:

  • Making errors in drafting of crucial documents;
  • Failing to meet limitation dates (time limits within which a legal claim must be brought within);
  • Failing to respect a client’s privacy by disclosing confidential information;
  • Advising a party with a conflict of interest simultaneously to advising you;
  • Advising only on some of the crucial legal issues surrounding your matter;
  • Failing to explain legal issues successfully to a client; and/or
  • Filing a claim against the wrong party.

For a solicitor negligence claim to succeed, you must have suffered a loss but for the advice of the solicitor, i.e. if not for the advice given by the solicitor, the loss suffered by you would not have taken place. If a solicitor has made a mistake but this mistake did not directly result in a loss suffered by you, you will be unlikely to succeed in bringing a negligence claim.

Therefore, if your solicitor has fallen below the duty of care but this has not resulted in damage, or if your solicitor has fallen below the duty of care but the loss suffered by you may be shown to have been caused by another factor, a solicitor negligence claim may not succeed.

If you suspect that you may be able to bring a claim against a potentially negligent legal professional, it is imperative that you consult a specialist solicitor. If you have sustained loss as a result of a solicitor’s negligence, a claim in negligence will aim to restore you to the position you would have been in had the negligence not occurred.

Are solicitor negligence claims subject to time limits?

Solicitor negligence claims must be brought within 6 years of the date of loss suffered by you. Should you only learn of the negligence occurring at a later date, this time limit may be extended to 3 years from the moment of learning of the negligence or the date on which you would have been reasonably expected to inquire into the negligence having taken place.

If you require assistance with any of the topics discussed, you can contact our Commercial Litigation Team on 0161 785 3500 at your earliest convenience.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Christopher Burke


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