Professional Negligence Claims

All professional negligence claims must be preceded by complying with the specific Pre-Action Protocol laid down by the court.

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David Hitchcock
Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution

All claims for professional negligence must be preceded by complying with the specific Pre-Action Protocol laid down by the Court expressly for dealing with such claims.

This Protocol has been designed to ensure that each side knows exactly what is in dispute between them, including what evidence either of them may have to support their position, before laying out the very considerable costs of issuing a formal claim in Court. One advantage of this is that it opens up the possibility of early settlement; another is that facts may emerge that were unknown to one side. Crucially, however, it enables each side to take advice on the strength, or otherwise, of their own position.

After the initial exchange of Protocol letters, the parties may thus feel it is worth getting together to see if they can settle the dispute out of Court. This is something we encourage because our job is to resolve disputes for our clients as swiftly and as economically as possible. We have an excellent track record for this and we believe our clients appreciate the sound advice which can often lead to early, and satisfactory, settlement.

When any professional knows that he is open to a claim for negligence it will invariably be the case that he notifies his professional indemnity insurers. These insurers will become involved at an early stage. This is something we welcome because we have considerable experience of dealing with insurers. They will want to test your claim but they also adopt a realistic approach to settlement. Their professional client may well want to fight the case because he sees it as a slur on his professional competence. The insurers will take a more realistic view and will not ultimately fight a case that they think holds risks for their insured. Yes, they will negotiate hard but as the person claiming you know that there is money there to satisfy your claim. Very important!

By their very nature professional negligence claims are often detailed and complicated and may themselves require us to obtain expert evidence to help support your claim. We have a significant network of contacts with a wide range of expertise across a number of professional disciplines and are confident we can find the right one for you.

Although, we have found it possible, over very many years of practise, to settle most professional negligence claims without going to Court, there is the odd one which must be fought out. This can, of course, potentially be very expensive but there are many alternatives to funding the costs of a Court case, including “no win no fee” agreements, and we will be happy to discuss the options with you.

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