Suing a solicitor for negligence in the UK – what you need to know
Like many professionals, solicitors owe you a duty of care. If they fail in that duty, it is possible to sue them for the losses they have caused you. But how does suing a solicitor for negligence work in the UK?
Is there a timeframe? What are your odds of success? How do you prove that the fault was theirs? How do you even start?
Here is what you need to understand about professional negligence claims and how to begin yours:
On What Grounds Can You Sue A Solicitor?
Poor-quality service isn’t serious enough grounds on which to sue your solicitor for professional negligence. Frustrating as it might be, just because they failed to keep in touch with you or didn’t mention a certain fee when you instructed them doesn’t mean they are negligent.
To consider suing a solicitor for actual negligence, you need to be able to prove that you suffered a loss because of their actions or lack of action. This latter was confirmed in a 2015 court case – in negligence cases, failing to act is often perceived as just as bad as acting poorly.
Some of the most common examples of professional negligence on the part of solicitors include things like:
- Offering you bad or incorrect legal advice
- Drafting a legal document (such as a will or contract) improperly
- Failing to secure the correct damages for you from a successful case
- Not acting within legal deadlines so you lose your chance to claim or act
- Not carrying out sufficient property searches during a house purchase
How Do You Prove A Solicitor Is Negligent?
Professional negligence cases of all kinds need to hit three separate legal targets in order to be successful:
- Duty of care – this must be owed by the professional in question. Solicitors do owe this.
- Breach of duty – your solicitor must have breached this duty of care.
- Caused a loss – the way they breached their duty of care must have caused you some kind of loss.
How Much Can I Sue My Solicitor For?
The amount you can try to claim from a solicitor that may have been professionally negligent will usually be tied to the losses their breach of duty of care has caused.
For instance, if they badly drafted a will that meant you lost thousands of pounds of inheritance, you might sue them for those thousands of pounds plus any other associated costs.
Or perhaps you bought a house and later found out that your solicitor failed to complete a search on the property that has led you to need to pay for building work to repair the problem. Maybe you also ended up paying a higher asking price than you would have done if you’d known.
In short, there isn’t really a fixed amount or limit on how much you can sue your solicitor for. However, any amount you get is likely to be tied to the amount of damage they caused.
How Long Do You Have To Sue A Solicitor For Negligence?
All professional negligence claims are time-limited to whichever is the later of:
- Six years after the date the act of negligence allegedly took place
- Three years after the date you found out about the negligence (with a possible “long stop” of 15 years after the date of the negligence)
How To Sue A Solicitor For Professional Negligence
The process for suing a solicitor for professional negligence normally works something like this:
- Get expert legal advice – this will help you know whether this complaint might or might not be worth pursuing and where you might start.
- Request a quote on solicitor’s fees – be clear about the way your new solicitor is charging you for their work. Some professional negligence solicitors work on a “no win no fee” basis.
Others charge differently.
- Legal letter of claim – once you have instructed a solicitor, their early steps will likely be to collect evidence and then notify the negligent solicitor of your intentions and the strength of the case against them.
- Aim to settle out of court – going to court is the most expensive part of any legal process. Most solicitors will want to avoid it. A strong legal case can mean that your previous negligent solicitor will settle out of court.
- Go to court if necessary – if your possibly negligent previous solicitor believes they have a strong defence, they may resist your claim meaning you have to go to court.
Suing A Solicitor For Negligence In The UK – How To Get Started
The first thing to do is to find a professional negligence solicitor to represent you. This doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s important to work with experts you trust.
Solicitors Near Me can find you the best choices for your specific needs for FREE and with no obligation to use them.