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What is professional negligence?

Professional negligence in the context of a legal case gone wrong is when a person believes they have been the victim of incorrect, improper or unethical advice from a previous legal advisor.

We say “legal advisor” because it doesn’t just have to involve a solicitor or law firm – it could be that they were previously with a claims management firm, a union or an organisation or individual holding themselves out as professional advisors.

It also doesn’t need to have been about a personal injury action – maybe you were given bad legal advice in relation to the sale of a property, a commercial deal or even an employment tribunal.

Regardless of who acted for you, if the legal advisor was negligent while handling your case then you may be entitled to compensation.

But remember – professional negligence cases are not simply about raising a grievance because you were not satisfied with the level of service you received. They are very serious allegations about the conduct of a legal professional. But if there is evidence to show mistakes or wrongdoings occurred then you are entitled to pursue such a matter.

What counts as negligence?

As with all cases it depends on circumstances. Review of the files from your previous law firm is usually a requirement to work out if there have been mistakes made or negligence.

Common examples of negligence can include:

  • Failure to carry out a reasonable level of work on your case before informing you of time bar
  • Failure to write to insurance companies/third parties on your behalf
  • Failure to correctly value the work resulting in your case settling for less than its true worth
  • Failure to carry out necessary work
  • Failure to follow the rules and guidance of the Law Society of Scotland
  • Failure to fully inform you of your rights or choices before making decisions
  • Engaging in behaviour that is coercive, bullying or harassing in nature
  • Encouraging you to accept an offer when there is no evidence to support their advice

These are only some common examples we’ve dealt with but in reality it could be any reason relating to the particular circumstances of either your case or the actions of the first legal advisor.

It’s only when we’ve had a chance to properly investigate that we’ll know for sure if you are likely to have a claim.

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Past examples of professional negligence success

In the last three years alone Digby Brown has recovered more than £1million for people affected by negligent legal advisors.

*due to the sensitive nature of the cases any identifying information has been omitted.

In one case we recovered £350,000 for the victim of a road traffic accident after their first solicitor botched the handling of a claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). The solicitors failed to complete the application to the MIB properly and the claim was rejected as a result. The original solicitors said the case was at an end and no compensation could be recovered. Our professional negligence expert immediately saw that this advice was wrong. The whole point of the MIB scheme is to compensate victims of crashes where the driver cannot be traced or has no insurance. We were able to intervene and pursued action against the original firm to secure a substantial award of damages for the client.

We also helped the family of a man who died as he carried out duties at work. The family originally made a workplace accident compensation claim after going to a high street law office – the solicitor there told them they had a good chance of success. However the law firm then failed to investigate the accident and failed to raise a court action. This resulted in the claim for damages being time-barred. It wasn’t until 2017 that the family reviewed this decision and asked Digby Brown for advice. When we took over the file we found the high street lawyers not only failed to take any action as time bar approached but then tried to blame the deceased for his own death and that this was the reason why there was no compensation.This was not true. We knew no competent solicitor would have provided such advice and as a result we were able to act swiftly and secure damages of over £340,000 for the family.

We also secured damages for a business professional who was previously given bad legal advice during a commercial property deal which left him unable to claim the full value of the property he had sold in good faith. Through litigation, we were able to force his negligent solicitors to pay £250,000 in damages.

What might impact a professional negligence case?

While there are lots of circumstances where we can help there are a few factors that may present some challenges.

A claim for professional negligence must be made within five years of any losses suffered as a result of the negligence. Calculating when that time limit begins can sometimes be surprisingly difficult.

For example, if you suffered losses on 1 January 2020 as a result of poor advice but only became aware that the advice was negligent much later you may still only have until January 1 2025 to make a claim.

If your original claim was for a personal injury action which time-barred due to your first solicitor’s negligence we would not be able to pursue your original personal injury claim. We would only be able to make a professional negligence claim against the negligent solicitor for the value of the “lost chance” to make that original claim. Such a claim would be valued in almost the same way as if the personal injury claim had not time-barred as that best illustrates the loss you suffered.

Digby Brown is a Scottish firm so for us to have jurisdiction there has to be a Scottish element to your case. So this means you either need to identify as Scottish, you have a permanent residence in Scotland or your previous legal advisor is based in Scotland.

Rest assured though, if there are challenges to your case then we have the experience, resources and reputation to help you.

No win, no fee personal injury solicitors

The expression “No win, no fee” is often used in personal injury cases.  It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses. 

A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful. 

In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.

Compensate 'no win, no fee' funding

Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.

If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing

On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer

Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.

In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.

Don’t take our word for it, just read many of the court decisions and case studies on our website.

Beware of compensation offers which may be too good

We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.

  • How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
  • If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
  • Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
  • If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
  • It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
  • These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.

We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value. 

Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.

Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown

Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.

Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.

Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors

We have offices across Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Aberdeen and Ayr.

For further information about no win, no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.

How to make a professional negligence claim

Just like our personal injury work, these cases are taken on a no win, no fee basis where our unique funding model Compensate pays for any legal costs meaning you never pay a penny.

We then recover our legal costs from the other side and retain a small success fee out of any settlement achieved which is capped at 25% plus VAT.

If you think you have reason to believe an earlier firm has mishandled an earlier legal claim within the last five years then contact our professional claims expert Robert Kernaghan who will be able to explain the full process and discuss specific queries you may have.

0333 200 5926

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