As true specialists in our field, we act for clients nationwide in claims against a range of emerging professionals, as well as in claims against traditional professionals.
Resolving claims against emerging professionals
From the outset, we focus not on making professional negligence claims on behalf of our clients, but on resolving them. In this way, we ensure that ours is a broader perspective and a more open mind.
Moreover, and by harnessing:
- Our wealth of experience acting in claims against a wide-range of professionals
- Our unique insight into the defence of claims against emerging professionals
- 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.
The emerging professions
This is by far the broadest category of professionals and includes such fields as agronomy, environmental consultancy, estate agency, letting agency, health and safety consultancy, managing agency, software development, network engineering, translation, recruitment, business intelligence analysis, chiropterology, project management and sound engineering, to name but a few.
Many of the professions within this category are either unregulated or self-regulated, so that while certain bodies exist to provide accreditation and qualifications, there is rarely a universal code of conduct, regulatory framework or other guidelines to govern the appointment or work of such professionals.
Furthermore, while all emerging professionals should carry professional indemnity insurance to protect themselves and their clients against any financial loss they may cause, not all do. In other cases, such cover can be limited in scope and amount, which can be a commercial consideration for claimants seeking to recover significant damages and legal costs.
Common mistakes by emerging professionals
Unlike traditional professionals, and in large part due to their diversity, it is impossible to produce a list of common mistakes for this category of professionals. Indeed, in the case of many emerging professions, the law is still developing and there are few reliable records of either the types of mistakes made or their regularity.
Assessing the merits of a claim
Before embarking on any claim against an emerging professional, a careful assessment will need to be undertaken of a number of important issues, including:
- The scope of the legal duties owed by the emerging professional
- Any actions taken by the emerging professional 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 background events that give rise to it.
How to make a claim for professional negligence
Most professional negligence claims against emerging professionals are commenced 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 professional 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.
The advantages of instructing a solicitor
You are not obliged to instruct a solicitor to advise and represent you in a claim for professional negligence, but it is usually sensible to do so. Professional negligence claims are often complicated and 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 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: How to find the Best Professional Negligence Solicitors
Compensation for professional negligence
Where an emerging professional 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 solicitor negligence, the defending party usually carries professional indemnity insurance to meet all or part of any judgment or award made against it. This represents a significant benefit to claimants, as we explain further in our guide: Professional Indemnity Insurance – A Claimant’s Guide
Even if the firm or practice at fault is no longer trading or has been dissolved, it may still be possible to make a claim and recover compensation. The support available to claimants in these circumstances is explained in our article: Claims against closed professional firms and practices
Mitigating loss in professional negligence claims
As part of any professional negligence claim against an emerging professional 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 subject to a duty to take all reasonable steps to mitigate that loss and take no unreasonable steps which would exacerbate it. Where this duty is breached, 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
Time limits for claims against emerging professionals
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 professional negligence claim, 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 solicitors 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
Funding claims for professional negligence
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. Further information about these different funding options can be found in our related guide: Fund a claim
Specialist legal advice
If you are contemplating making, or even currently pursuing, a claim against an emerging professional 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.