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How to Sue a Professional for Negligence

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Professional, for example a solicitor, accountant, doctor etc. are held to a certain standard of knowledge and care when acting in their professional capacity. It has long since been established that a professional owes a duty of care to their clients. 

According to the case of Robinson v Jones (Contractors) Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 9, a person who holds themselves out to another to be a professional owes that person a duty of care. Any person who claims to be a professional, even if they are not, owes a duty of care. This is because a professional like an accountant or a solicitor has a certain level of expertise that is duly relied upon by their clients. 

In order to establish a case for professional negligence 3 elements must be present:

Duty of care

The standard for duty of care is that of the ‘reasonable man’. For a professional that duty becomes the reasonable man in that profession, the ‘reasonable solicitor’, ‘reasonable accountant’ etc. This is an objective standard. The question ultimately is whether the reasonable professional acting in the same circumstances would have made the same decision. This does not mean that every other professional acting in the same circumstance would agree with the decision, only that other professionals believe the decision is reasonable. 

Breach of the duty of care

The next element is that the duty of care was breached. The test is whether the professional acted in a way that no reasonable professional of the same skill and competence would have acted.

Loss or damage caused by the breach of the duty of care

Finally, it must be shown that due to the professional’s breach of their duty of care loss or damage was caused. This is known as the ‘but for’ causation test. It needs to be shown that the breach was the direct cause of the loss. Essentially, if the professional had acted in a way that breach their duty of care, and this breach caused damage then they are liable to compensate for that damage. 

Establishing a case of professional negligence is always difficult. The professional must be so remiss in carrying out their duties that no other reasonable professional with the same skill and knowledge would have acted in the same way. This is an objective standard and it is common for professionals to have different opinions about the best cause of action without either of them breaching their duty.

Call our litigation solicitors in Manchester 0161 820 8888 or call 0208 889 8888 for our solicitors in London. We will happily provide a free 30-minute consultation on your matter. Give us a call today!

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