Suing your solicitor for negligence is sadly far too common.
Looking for help with suing your solicitor? Call our specialist team on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or one of our four local office numbers for FREE initial phone advice – no strings attached.
You need a professional negligence specialist – how do you identify them?
Professional negligence claims are often not easy to run. It’s not just that you have solicitors on the other side who may try to deny negligence or try to argue that the compensation you are seeking is too high. They will inevitably be represented themselves by solicitors for their insurers (all solicitors must carry Professional Indemnity Insurance of at least £2 million). And insurers have panels of solicitors whose entire job is to fight these kind of claims.
So how do you find a solicitor who really understands rational negligence claims? The easiest way is to make sure that they are members of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association. The PNLA is the only UK organisation representing solicitors specialising in these kind of compensation claims. Here at Bonallack & Bishop, we are members of the PNLA and regularly handle cases against negligent solicitors.
Scoping your claim – how our solicitors can help you
With decades worth of experience in suing solicitors, with well thought out questions our team can look at your claim and with the right information, assess whether or not your prospects of success are good or not. And if you then decide to go ahead with your claim, we can help from the beginning to what we hope will be a successful outcome.
And rest assured, we will do our utmost to deal with your case swiftly and, if possible, to avoid court proceedings. Providing the right evidence is a crucial stage – and that will enable us to negotiate, if necessary using mediation rather than the final hearing to settle your claim.
But do be aware, suing a solicitor is not usually a quick process. And it can be challenging and stressful.
Suing your solicitor for negligence – the problems with claims under £10,000
Claims worth under £10,000 (with the exception of personal injury and medical negligence claims) are dealt with in the Small Claims Court. This is important, because it means that you cannot recover own solicitors’ costs from the other side, even if you successfully win your claim.
As a result, it is unlikely that it is practical to appoint a solicitor to run a claim under £10,000, because with no costs recoverable from the other side, even if you win, you may well find your legal costs exceed the amount you could win in compensation.
But I can’t win my case against my solicitor!
That’s not necessarily true. You may be surprised at how common suing your solicitor actually is. Statistics released by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) showed that in the 10 year period 2004 to 2014, 142,000 negligence claims were issued against law firms. And a staggering £1.94 billion was paid out by insurers in that period.
In fact, because solicitors are held to such high standards and because they have such strict regulation and minimum insurance levels, claims against solicitors are often more successful than those against many other trades or professions – provided course there really has been negligence which has resulted in substantial financial loss, and that you can prove it.
So what types of cases are most often seen during claims for negligent legal advice against solicitors?
Suing Your Solicitor For Negligence – Mistakes made in Residential Conveyancing Transactions
One of the most common areas of solicitor negligence is around the buying and selling of houses. In fact residential conveyancing alone accounts for 26% of payments made in respect of negligent law firms, according to the SRA. And as the average house price in England and Wales as at January 2023 is £281,684, there is a considerable sum at stake and the client potentially faces a huge financial loss.
Some of the more common mistakes made during conveyancing include:
- failing to explore and explain planning restrictions to the client
- missing a mistake in the legal title deeds.
- failure to perform searches when buying or selling property
Click here to read more about claiming compensation from negligent your conveyancing solicitors
Negligence in commercial conveyancing
According to those same SRA statistics, the next largest source of payouts from negligent solicitors is in relation to commercial property, which saw payouts totalling over £206 million over that 10 year period.
Suing Your Solicitor – Errors made in Personal Injury Claims
The number of professional negligence claims against the legal profession concerning errors made with medical and accident compensation claims is on the rise. And SRA statistics mentioned above between 2004 and 2014 show that 8% of insurance claims for solicitor negligence were in relation to mistakes made by law firms in personal injury or medical negligence work.
In part, the cause of this appears to be that some of the larger claims handling firms employ junior staff to deal with the claim, supervised by qualified solicitors. These junior members of staff have limited experience and with increasing frequency appear to be recommending that clients accept a compensation offer which is way below the level which might be expected for that type of injury.
Another common personal injury case mistake is not sticking to the legal deadlines – either not issuing the paperwork to get the claim underway in time which means the client misses out on compensation entirely, or the solicitor misses one of the strict deadlines set out by the courts.
Suing Your Solicitor For Negligence – Incorrectly Drafting Wills
One of the most common reasons we see a solicitor apart from buying property is to do with drawing up a will. And if a solicitor or non-qualified Will writer drafts your Will, they have a duty of care both to you and the future beneficiaries mentioned in the Will.
Professional negligence litigation claims for errors made by a solicitor or will writer come about when a solicitor acts in a poor or negligent way towards one of their clients, usually meaning that their client suffers some sort of financial loss as a result.
There are a number of areas where solicitors can make serious mistakes with wills. Here are five of the most common reasons why legal professional negligence claims against solicitors or will writers for negligently drafted wills come about:
- Drafting a will which does not reflect what the client wishes
- Not making sure that the Will is completed promptly and before a person dies, or loses the mental capacity to make a will
- Failing to check that the Will has valid and proper witnesses and is signed under the right conditions
- A will which is ineffective or has unintended tax or other consequences
- Not checking the Will for clerical drafting errors (this can cause the will to be invalid)
Suing Your Solicitor – Errors made in handling Probate
Winding up the affairs of someone who has died can also result in claims for professional negligence. Mistakes made by probate solicitors sadly include the following:
• general admin errors such as missing some of the deceased’s assets
• failing to keep accurate estate accounts or to correctly identify tax payable on the estate
• failing to accurately assess all the liabilities of the estate or correctly pay any outstanding debts
• incorrectly valuing any of the deceased’s assets
Professional negligence – it’s not the same as poor service
Suing your solicitor i.e. making a professional negligence compensation claim against them is only possible if you have suffered some sort of financial loss as a result.
That means that if your complaint is just about poor service, while it might give grounds for a complaint (or even a referral to the Legal Ombudsman), it wouldn’t be sufficient to prove professional negligence.
Here are the contact details for the Legal Ombudsman:
Phone: 0300 555 0333
Want to know more about how to sue a negligent solicitor?
Click here to read more about professional negligence claims and how our solicitors can help you win compensation.
Don’t delay getting the right legal advice– if you think you have a claim, contact our team as soon as you can
There are 2 main reasons why getting prompt legal advice is so important. Firstly, memories fade and evidence is lost – so the sooner we can start to build your case, the better.
And secondly, if you wait too long before making a claim, you may lose your right to compensation entirely. If your claim arose over 6 years ago, then it’s highly likely that you may not be able to make a claim – unless, for example, you can prove that you any became aware of the negligence more recently.
But regardless, our advice is simple – get specialist and urgent advice.
Suing My Solicitor – how to fund your legal fees
There are a number of ways in which you can cover your legal bills. Some clients do pay privately, but this is not an option for most people, because these kind of cases are often complex, hard fought by insurers and defendant solicitors alike, and can take some considerable time.
So as a result, the vast majority of our professional negligence claims are funded either through
- No win no fee schemes (also called conditional fee arrangements) OR
- Legal expenses insurance
No win no fee is in basic terms exactly what it appears to be. If you ask a solicitor to take on a case and you lose, then you do not have to pay that solicitor any fees. This obviously means that a solicitor who loses a case gets no payment for that case. If the claim is successful, the solicitor can charge a “success fee”.
Click here to read more about how no win no fee agreements work.
The importance of the Solicitors Code of Conduct
All solicitors must abide by the Solicitors Code of Conduct which was established and is strictly enforced by the SRA (the Solicitors Regulation Authority). This regularly updatedcode outlines ethical standards that solicitors should following all aspects of their practice, including acting in client’s best interests, refraining from activities that could create a conflict of interest, and not bringing disrepute to the profession. Breach of these standards does not automatically mean that there be negligent – but if that breach of the code was a major one and resulted in financial loss to you, it could serve as grounds for suing your solicitor.
Looking to Sue Your Solicitor For Negligence? You could be entitled to compensation – call us today
It is always distressing if a professional lets you down – our solicitors specialize in professional negligence claims. So if you think you have been on the receiving end of law firm negligence;
- Put your mind at rest by calling our experts on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice today OR
- Fill in the contact form below