Professional negligence claims against solicitors, have you suffered a financial loss due to legal error?


Sometimes even professionals can make mistakes.

If a mistake is made which causes a loss to their client, the client can sue the solicitor and they can be ordered by the Court to put matters right.  

Professional negligence claims arise against a solicitor because they have failed to perform responsibilities to the required standard. If this has happened to you you may be able to make a claim. 

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What is professional negligence?

The Court looks for three conditions to be met in order to hear a claim. 


  1. There must have been a duty of care,  

  2. The duty of care must be breached and  

  3. The client must have suffered a loss.  

How it all works

But what happens if that client relationship has been concluded, does the duty of care owed by the Solicitor extend further? 

For example, what if someone making a Will gives instructions to a solicitor and then they make a mistake in the wording of the Will. This mistake can often only be identified after the person making the will (the Testator) has died.  

There might be occasions where a Testator wants to put their affairs in order. However, despite receiving instructions, a solicitor doesn’t write the Will in time and the Testator dies without their wishes being put in place. 

This can cause many problems and can be extremely distressing for those who are left behind, to pick up the pieces. 

The Court has found and continues to enforce a position where the Solicitor does take responsibility for those people who might be affected by their mistake and extends the Duty of Care to those standing to inherit from a Testator’s estate (such as their children). 

This puts a great responsibility on solicitors to make sure that they not only accurately interpret the instructions from a Testator and produce a Will that they have been asked to do quickly, so that there is no risk that the Testator dies before it is made valid. 

Having extended these duties of care to those impacted by a mistake, the Courts are keen to avoid a situation where they ‘open the floodgates’ so any potential losses suffered would need to be carefully considered to make sure that there is a claim to pursue. Such claims are inherently stressful and can take a long time to resolve, so it is important to understand the merits of any claim before embarking upon Court action. 

This is important to bear in mind, because any claim that impacts the administration of an Estate can have wide implications. It can halt the administration of the Estate whilst the issue is resolved and this can take a long time, dealing with numerous different people/organisations to get to the bottom of what has happened. 

Overall, the Courts require any formal claims to be made within 6 years from the date of the negligence. In the case of a Will that wasn’t drafted in time, the clock starts running on the date of death (because until then the Testator could have made another Will). 

However, in practice, most negligence claims against professionals are resolved long before the matter goes to Court. This is partly because of the reputational damage a public claim could do, but also to save the costs of litigation, which can be significant. 


First Steps

If it is believed that a professional has made a mistake, first step would be to obtain information as possible. Then the merits of any claim can be assessed by a specialist solicitor.  

It is important to know that in the vast majority of cases, the professionals concerned will look to do all possible to resolve any issues swiftly. 

The person/organisation responsible for the mistake should be notified at an early stage. This allows them to notify their own insurers (who may ultimately be responsible for funding any settlement). 

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