Professional Negligence against Solicitors and Barristers

Solicitors should (but very frequently do not) record the scope of what they have agreed to do in a letter to the client at the outset of their instruction. Failure to do so when there is a later problem leaves the solicitor at a particular disadvantage.

Solicitors can be liable to people who were not their clients in certain circumstances, normally where the solicitor has made a statement negligently which the third party relies upon and suffers a loss as a result.

Also particular to solicitors is their liability to honour an undertaking whether it is given to a client or to a third party to a transaction. So, for example, if a solicitor undertakes to discharge all mortgages on completion of a house sale, he will be forced to do so by the Courts even if the solicitor was not aware of a particular mortgage or neglected to take account of that mortgage when the undertaking was produced.

Claims can arise in a variety of ways; unreasonably relying on a Barrister’s advice; not following the client’s specific instructions; not carrying out all the necessary searches in relation to a conveyancing transaction; missing time limits for the service of notices or the issue of proceedings; drafting or witnessing the execution of a Will erroneously and so on.

Unless a Barrister is qualified to, and agreed to, a direct access instruction, a Barrister can only act on the instructions of a solicitor but does not enter a contract with a lay client.
Nevertheless, the Barrister still owes a duty of care to the client and so can still be liable for his negligent advice.

Alternatively, a disappointed client can complain to the Barrister’s professional body – the Bar Council – about inadequate professional service and can be awarded a limited amount of compensation by it.

Professional Negligence Advice against Barristers

Barristers can also be made liable for the legal costs wasted on proceedings where, like a solicitor, there has been an improper, unreasonable or negligent act or omission on his part, which has led to legal costs being unnecessarily incurred by one of the parties to the litigation.

For help and assistance on queries relating to professional negligence against solicitors and barristers, contact our professional negligence team on 0161 832 6131 or get in touch by filling out one of our online enquiry forms.

Find out more on our Professional Negligence page.