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.
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Director, Costa Coffee Ireland
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Aidan O’Sullivan, General Manager
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Erik Holstein, Managing Director
12 acres brewing retains the services of Victor Clarke of Clarke Jeffers & Co Solicitors for commercial legal advice. We find his advice clear thinking and very practical.
Paddy McDonald, Director
Codd Mushrooms is a large horticultural company based in Carlow. We have been clients of Clarke Jeffers for many years, and we have a very good working relationship with Victor, William and their team. Their knowledge of our industry, and the professional manner that they conduct business is exemplary. Their ‘can do attitude’ to difficult business situations is certainly a breath of fresh air.
Leslie Codd, CEO
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Serghei Jolondcovschi, Director CSJ Master t/a Domino’s Pizza
Clarke Jeffers provide us with insightful and practical advice that we feel adds value to our business. Their understanding and knowledge of the fast food industry is top class.
MBBC Foods (Ireland) Ltd
I found Victor and Staff very professional to deal with but in a friendly and relaxed fashion, the advice and confidence I gained from this team was second to none and I am very grateful to all at Clarke Jeffers for their help over the past 12 months. I would recommend them without hesitation for all aspects of Legal Advice.
Marcus McCormack, Managing Director
We’ve worked closely with Clarke Jeffers over the last 8 years and I cannot recommend their services highly enough. We’ve always found their staff to be highly professional, responsive and they have helped us resolve issues quickly.
Michele Neylon, Managing Director
Victor has an excellent understanding of the business of franchising, I found his advice invaluable when I was starting my own business and negotiating my contract, I would have no hesitation in recommending Clarke Jeffers for sound business and legal advice’.
Paddy McDonald, Managing Director
As Ireland’s largest chain of fitness clubs and a key player in the Irish franchising sector, we have been involved in numerous commercial transactions, negotiations and of course the odd conflict along the way! Victor and the team at Clarke Jeffers has been an invaluable asset to us on this journey. From when we started in 2005 with our first club and our first member to a membership today of over 25,000 in Ireland alone, Clarke Jeffers has been there every step of the way.
John Hannaford, Director
We have always been very happy with the representation and advice from Clarke Jeffers. Firstly they are proactive and on the ball, secondly they have a “what we can do as opposed to what we can’t do approach. They possess the type of forward thinking that a progressive business such as ours demands.
We have worked with Clarke Jeffers & Co solicitors for many years. They have consistently given us clear and easy to understand advice. Most importantly, they have give us effective advice. A very professional outfit.
Patrick O’Toole, Director
Clarke Jeffers understand our business. The speed and accuracy of their responses to our needs is testament to their awareness of the commercial issues we face. We have absolute confidence in their ability to advise us on an ongoing basis.
Paddy Kavanagh, Managing Director