Professional Negligence Frequently Asked Questions

What is Professional Negligence?

Professional Negligence is when there has been a breach in the duty of care between a professional (e.g. doctor, accountant, architect) and their client and that breach has resulted in a loss to the client.

The standard for judging whether a professional’s behaviour is reasonable will be the standard of care one would expect from a competent practitioner in the same profession. Where a professional has departed from the reasonably acceptable standard, they are likely to have acted negligently. Common types of Professional negligence include bad advice, medical malpractice, accounting malpractice and architectural malpractice.

What if I feel I have received bad advice or service?

Poor advice or service does not always amount to negligence and you must suffer actual financial loss or some form of equivalent prejudice to make a compensation claim through the courts.

What do I need to do to commence a Professional Negligence case?

You will need to show:

  • the existence of a duty of care on the professional’s part;
  • that there has been a breach of this duty of care;
  • that you have suffered a financial loss; and that your financial loss is a result of this breach.

If the loss would have occurred in any event, even if the professional had not been negligent, you would not have a successful claim.

Who is a professional?

The definition of a professional for the purposes of a negligence claim is someone who is considered to possess particular skills and expertise in the services that they provide. This means that theoretically at least, any professional - such as a solicitor, surveyor, barrister, engineer, builder, financial advisor, IT professional or accountant - could have a claim brought against them.

Do I have a case?

It is not enough for you to have received poor advice or service. Nor is it enough for you to have a grievance against the professional concerned which does not amount to negligence. To pursue a professional negligence claim, in addition to demonstrating that the professional fell below the reasonable standard required of them this failure must have been the cause of a financial loss you many have sustained. This is done by production of an independent report on negligence commissioned from a suitable professional in that particular area of practice.

Do I have to go to Court?

In our experience most clients wish to resolve disputes as quickly as possible, on acceptable financial terms and without the need for protracted proceedings. We will consider all forms of alternative dispute resolution to bring your claim to a satisfactory conclusion but if these are not successful we have considerable trial experience to fight your case.

Is there a time limit to take a claim?

In most professional negligence claims you have six years to issue Court proceedings. The period generally starts to run from the date when the professional was negligent and the date you suffered loss (Although there are certain exceptions to this). We would suggest that you contact us as soon as you think you have a potential claim so that we can advise you further.

What can I claim for?

The purpose of bringing a professional negligence claim is to put you in the position you would have been had the professional not been negligent. As such, you can claim any loss you have suffered, provided that you would not have suffered it without the professional negligence

What else do I need to consider?

It is important to note that you have a personal duty to mitigate your losses.  This means that you must take practical steps to minimise your loss and avoid decisions that increase the loss. If you do not attempt to mitigate your loss, you will not be able to recover damages for losses which could have been avoided by mitigation.

In some cases, the professional may argue that you have caused or contributed to the losses suffered. This is referred to as contributory negligence. If the court agrees that you a partly responsible for your loss, then the damages awarded to you may be reduced by the court. It will also affect the claim if another party has caused some or all of the loss suffered.

What should I do next?

If you would like more information or would like to see one of our Solicitors specialising in Professional Negligence matters, please get in touch to make an appointment.

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DUBLIN OFFICE

Clarke Jeffers Solicitors
The Mews, Fitzwilliam Hall
Fitzwilliam Place
Dublin 2

Tel: +353 1567 5938

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Clarke Jeffers Solicitors
30 Dublin Street
Carlow
Ireland

Tel: +353 59 913 1656