Solicitors are usually the first point of call when you’ve got a legal issue and you trust your solicitor to handle your case professionally and sensitively, especially if you’re dealing with a personal issue such as a divorce or making a will.
If a solicitor makes a mistake, this can have serious consequences. But whether or not your solicitor’s mistake was negligent depends on a few different factors and it’s not always easy to determine if your loss was caused by your solicitor’s negligence.
If you’d like advice about making a professional negligence claim against a solicitor, get in touch for a free initial discussion.
What Does a Solicitor Do?
Solicitors are instructed by individuals, groups or organisations for various legal issues. They give specialist advice and support people through any necessary legal action, whether this is a Court hearing or signing contracts/agreements.
Some examples of things solicitors do for clients include:
- Giving legal advice
- Drafting legal documents
- Researching legislation
- Negotiating on behalf of clients
- Liaising with other professionals such as barristers or conveyancers
- Representing clients in Court
What is Duty of Care?
All professionals offering a paid service have a legal duty to provide a high standard of care and expertise to their customers, but this will be dependent on what they have agreed to do for you.
Solicitors are bound by what’s known as a ‘duty of care’ towards their clients, which means they need to act with reasonable skill and care. If they breach this duty and act in a way that another professional in the same position wouldn’t have done, this could mean they acted negligently.
Examples of Solicitor Negligence
Solicitor negligence will vary from case to case but let’s go through some common examples.
Incorrect or poor legal advice
Getting the wrong advice from a solicitor can have serious consequences, including financial loss.
Some examples include:
- Advising you to accept a settlement that’s worth less than your claim is worth
- Failing to advise you properly on property searches, or the title or ownership of a property
- Failing to advise on the consequences of tax (if it’s been agreed that the solicitor is to advise on tax)
Everyone makes mistakes here and there but an error in an important legal document or a missed deadline could affect your case.
- Missing a Court deadline – Courts have strict time limits in place for making a claim, varying from as little as 6 months to as much as 6 years. Your solicitor is responsible for making sure that you make a claim within the time limit. If they miss a deadline for paperwork or a Court attendance, you could lose your chance of making a claim.
- Incorrectly drafted documents – if a solicitor makes a mistake on a legal document such as a Will, this can cause issues. For example, family members missing out on their inheritance.
There can be a lot to do when buying or selling a home and you expect your solicitor or conveyancer to make the conveyancing process as smooth as possible. While obstacles can crop up during the process, solicitors should do all they can to identify and prevent any issues.
Examples can include:
- Not arranging property searches
- Failing to follow instructions from the joint owners of a property, leading to just one owner’s name being on the mortgage of the property
- Neglecting to advise you on an onerous ground rent clause or leasehold extension issue
- Failing to complete the conveyancing on a property properly
Proving Professional Negligence
To make a claim for professional negligence against a solicitor, the Court has to be satisfied that you suffered loss or damage because of your solicitor’s negligence, and that their actions were the direct cause of your loss.
We understand that you might be unsure where you stand. Our Professional Negligence Solicitors have years of experience in helping clients bring claims against professionals, including solicitors. We can look at your solicitor’s paperwork for evidence of negligence and help you bring a claim.
Get in touch to see if you can make a No Win, No Fee claim today.
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.