As true specialists in our field, we act for clients nationwide in claims for barrister negligence, as well as in claims against other professionals.
Our approach to resolving barrister negligence claims
Our focus is not on making professional negligence claims on behalf of our clients, but on resolving them.
In this way, we ensure that our approach is informed by the outcomes that our individual clients require, rather than limited to the procedural processes involved.
Moreover, and by harnessing:
- Our wealth of experience acting in claims against a barrister or other legal professional
- Our unique insight into the defence of barrister negligence claims
- Our commitment to providing a client-centric service as part of our core values
- Our innovative and highly efficient service provision
we ensure that our clients achieve better results for substantial claims, time and again.
Common mistakes by barristers
The standard of education, vocational training and qualification maintained by the Bar Council, combined with strong competition between barristers for tenancies, has meant that the quality of advice and service provided by barristers generally has remained very good.
However, that is not to say that mistakes do not occur, or that all members consistently deliver the standard of service that can reasonably be expected of them. They do not. Like all professions, the Bar consists of a mixed pool of talent which often operates within a highly technical and complex legal arena, where human fallibility is inevitable. The fact that most barristers are self-employed, means that the financial pressure on those less successful members of the Bar to take on work that they should not, can be all the greater.
Some common mistakes that can give rise to claims for barrister negligence are:
- A failure to present important evidence to the court during a hearing or trial
- A failure to adequately warn of the risks associated with a claim or transaction
- A failure to apprehend and/or plead a legal defence to a claim or prosecution
- A failure to take any or any proper account of relevant case law authorities
- A failure to advise correctly on a point of law, such as statutory limitation
- A failure to draft a statement of case in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules
- A failure to make material legal submissions during a hearing or trial
- A failure to comply with orders and directions issued by the court
- A failure to appear at a court hearing without reasonable excuse
- A failure to advise on the need for expert evidence to support a claim or defence
- A failure to recommend that material documentary evidence be secured
In our experience, claims for professional negligence against barristers arise most frequently in the context of litigation and where the barrister is instructed under the Direct Access scheme. This is often because the barrister receives much less litigation support from the lay client than from a solicitor and, in consequence, because the barrister’s role is stretch beyond its usual sphere of competence.
Assessing the merits of claims for barrister negligence
It is not in every case where an unexpected financial loss or liability arises that a barrister will be found to be negligent and before embarking on any professional negligence claim against a barrister, a careful assessment will need to be undertaken of a number of important issues. These include:
- The scope of the legal duties owed by the barrister
- Any actions taken by the barrister to comply with those duties
- The nature and extent of the loss caused by any breaches of those duties
This can be a complicated process and the merits of each claim will often depend on the specific background events that give rise to it. For this reason, caution should always be exercised when relying on the reported outcome in one negligence claim, to assess the merits of another.
Whether to make a claim for barrister negligence
Where a barrister has been instructed via a solicitor, and where an unexpected financial loss or liability has arisen in connection with that engagement, it can be less clear whether the solicitor, or the barrister, or both have been negligent. In turn, it can be difficult to know against which party to pursue a professional negligence claim.
If a negligence claim is pursued against the wrong party, it can lead to unnecessary time and expense being incurred, as well as to adverse cost awards. It is, therefore, all the more important to carefully assess each potential defendant’s liability. In our related article, we discuss in more detail the considerations and implications of multi-party claims: Multiple defendants in professional negligence: Which to sue?
The advantages of instructing a solicitor
You are not obliged to instruct a solicitor to advise and represent you in a claim for barrister negligence, but it is usually sensible to do so. Professional negligence claims against barristers are often factually complicated, legally technical, as well as time consuming and a successful outcome can very much depend on the way in which a claim is prepared and pursued.
To help you decide between instructing a solicitor and pursuing a claim as a litigant in person, we identify and comment on some of the key factors to consider in our guide: Professional negligence claims – Do I need a solicitor?
If you do decide to instruct a solicitor, you would do well to instruct one who genuinely specialises in professional negligence claims. While an ever-increasing number of solicitors claim to undertake work in this niche area, in reality there are very few solicitors nationally who are true specialists.
To assist you in identifying the best solicitor to act in relation to your claim, we have highlighted seven key features to consider as part of your search in our guide: Professional negligence solicitors: How to find the best
Why clients choose us to act as their professional negligence solicitors
There are many reasons why you might choose to instruct us to act for you or your business in relation to a barrister negligence claim.
Collectively, our highly experienced team have over 45 years of experience in acting in professional negligence cases. Each case is handled at partner level, which allows for attentive and efficient collaboration and ensures you receive consistently hight standards of service.
We are also defined by our Core Values, which underpin everything we do.
In the context of barrister negligence claims, our association with Keystone Law, a multi-award winning top 100 UK law firm, is particularly advantageous, allowing us to quickly draw upon the technical knowledge and experience of over 450 partner-level solicitors specialising in various other areas of legal practice.
Where to meet us
Due to our use of modern technology, and because our investigations are usually document-led, it is our experience that an ‘in-person’ meeting is rarely required. Nevertheless, we do maintain meeting room facilities in the following major cities across England for those instances where such a meeting regarding a barrister’s negligence is desirable or preferred:
We are committed to providing the best service possible for our clients. This makes the unprompted feedback we receive even more valuable to us, some of which we are delighted to share below.
‘Your advice proved always to be correct, informative and accurate on every occasion, the ease of accessibility to contact you and get immediate replies via e-mail or by direct telephone contact is a credit to you as is the friendly manner in which you work.’
‘…may I place on record my appreciation of your services. The quality of your advice and expertise is in my opinion very high indeed.’
‘Your service in dealing with this matter was excellent, especially the hard work you put into the mediation and the great result achieved…many thanks for your assistance.’
‘I have very much appreciated your calm and considered approach in your dealings with [this] claim.’
Please take a look at the Testimonials section of our website to read many of the other comments we have received from appreciative clients.
See more testimonials
Arrange a free consultation with us
If you would like to arrange an initial telephone consultation with us to discuss the merits of a potential professional negligence claim, free of charge or commitment, please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone, email or by completing the form on this page.
Phone: 0800 195 4983 Email: email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions
Can we act for you on your barrister negligence claim?
While instinctively we would like to assist with every barrister negligence claim, there may be occasions where we will not be permitted to act, or where we will not be best placed to act. This might occur, for example, where we identify a conflict of interest, or where the value of the claim appears to be relatively modest. We will always consider these possibilities with you at the outset and before we accept any instructions. In the unfortunate event that we are not able to act, we will endeavour to provide you with alternative options, based on our understanding of the nature and value of your claim, as well as any wider interests communicated to us.
How do I go about making a claim for barrister negligence?
Barrister negligence claims are commenced in much the same way as professional negligence claims against other lawyers, that is, by correspondence and by following the procedures set out in the Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence.
The aim of the Protocol is to make the process of resolving professional negligence claims more open and more efficient and, by doing so, to reduce the number of claims that require judicial intervention. Happily, and since the introduction of the Protocol in July 2001, the vast majority of professional negligence claims are now resolved at the Protocol stage and without the need to initiate and pursue costly and time-consuming court proceedings.
However, it is as well to appreciate that as helpful as the Protocol is, it provides only a generic framework for resolving barrister negligence claims. It does not identify or assess what facts, issues or evidence is relevant and irrelevant in any particular case, nor does it contain legal advice.
How can I mitigate loss in claims for barrister negligence?
As part of any professional negligence claim against a barrister, it is important to consider what action, if any, might be taken to reduce the financial effect of any negligence. This is because all claimants who have suffered a loss are expected to take all reasonable steps to mitigate that loss and take no unreasonable steps which would exacerbate it. Where they fail to do so, the court is likely to prevent a claimant party from recovering compensation for that loss which it considers was unreasonably incurred.
The duty to mitigate can lead to much confusion and uncertainty, particularly at the outset of a claim, and further guidance on it is available in our article: The duty to mitigate in professional negligence claims
What are the time limits for claims against barristers?
There are a number of important reasons for acting promptly when a mistake has been made or discovered. One of these are the time limits that apply to all professional negligence claims.
These time limits can be found in the Limitation Act 1980. In short, they require legal proceedings to be commenced within:
- 6 years of the date upon which damage or financial loss occurs – section 2
- 6 years of the date upon which the mistake occurred – section 5
- 3 years of the earliest date upon which the claimant has both the knowledge required for bringing a claim and the right to bring a claim – section 14A
- 15 years of the date on which the mistake occurred, even if the time limit prescribed by section 14A has not expired – section 14B
Therefore, where there are grounds for pursuing a claim for barrister negligence, a claimant will generally have 6 years from the date of wrongdoing or loss, but may have 3 years from the date of discovery, if later, in which to bring any claim, subject to a long stop of 15 years.
However, while these time limits may appear straightforward in summary form, applying them in practice can be much more challenging. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of cases in which they have been misapplied, not only by lay clients acting as litigants in person but also by barristers and other lawyers who have themselves fallen into error.
Although limitation is a complicated area of law, with a large body of case law relating to it, further information about it can be found in our introductory guide: Time limits for professional negligence claims – FAQs
What are the options for funding barrister negligence claims?
Before embarking on any professional negligence claim it is imperative to consider how it will be funded. In comparison to other more routine forms of litigation, professional negligence claims can be more complicated, more time-consuming and more costly to resolve.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to fund litigation. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and can be more or less suitable, depending on individual circumstances. Our team is highly experienced in advising clients on the nuances of funding a claim. Further information about these different funding options can be found in our related guide: Fund a claim
Fee disputes and service complaints
Fees are one of the most common causes of dispute between lawyers and their clients. If a mistake made by a barrister causes significant unnecessary, additional or abortive fees to be incurred, this may well justify a professional negligence claim. However, this is not always the most appropriate means by which to challenge a barrister’s fees.
Where disputes between lawyers and clients arise from poor or inadequate service, rather than as a result of a mistake that has caused a financial loss or liability, making a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman may be more appropriate than pursing a barrister negligence claim. This alternative course of action is explained in more detail in our guide: Legal Ombudsman Complaints Service – An independent guide
Misconduct by barristers
In our experience, it is relatively rare for issues of misconduct to arise in the context of professional negligence claims against barristers. Further, and while in some instances misconduct can also amount to negligence, this will not be so in every case.
Misconduct is often defined by a breach of the professional codes of practice that govern the professional, such as the Code of Conduct for Barristers. Where serious, the breach should be reported to the Bar Standards Board or such other regulator of the professional concerned, who may then commence disciplinary proceedings. Although such proceedings can then result in penalties and sanctions being imposed upon the professional, they do not often result in compensation. Accordingly, they are rarely a substitute for, or an alternative to, pursuing a barrister negligence claim where financial loss or damage is sought to be recovered.
Compensation for professional negligence
Where a barrister is found to be negligent financial compensation, usually in the form of ‘damages’, can be awarded for a wide range of losses. Using case examples, we identify and explain many of the different types of compensation awards available in our guide: Compensation for professional negligence: What can I recover?
As in other areas of litigation, the true value of any compensatory award is often dependent on the prospect of being able to successfully recover it. Fortunately, in claims for barrister negligence, the barrister is highly likely to have professional indemnity insurance in place with Bar Mutual, to meet all or part of any judgment or award them. This represents a significant benefit to claimants, as we explain further in our guide: Professional Indemnity Insurance – A Claimant’s Guide
Even if the barrister at fault is no longer practising, it may still be possible to make a claim and recover compensation. Moreover, most barristers will have insurance cover in place for at least 6 years after ceasing to practise.
Further legal advice
If you are contemplating making, or even currently pursuing, a barrister negligence claim and would like to arrange an initial consultation with us, free of charge or commitment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 195 4983 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.