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The mistakes of a solicitor can have serious consequences on their clients. If the advice you received from your solicitor was incorrect, or the advice of your solicitor caused you financial loss, you may have a case against them for negligence.
There are many form of solicitor negligence. Here are some of the most common ways that your solicitor can act negligently.
- Failure to keep details of your case or the case itself confidential. Unless you have given precise permission for them to do so, the solicitor should never discuss the case with anyone.
- Providing advice for you while in league with a third party and acting for their best interests rather than your own.
- Not properly explaining the legal terminology involved in terms you can fully understand and therefore causing you to provide inaccurate instructions.
- Missing court deadlines which can have severe consequences to your case.
- Failing to fully advise you on any important element; for example, failing to explain the tax laws that apply to a specific transaction.
- Providing legal advice for the director of a company while also advising a shareholder
- Simultaneously advising the director of a company in his capacity as a director as well as a shareholder;
- In cases where the solicitor is providing advice to a couple and only receives instructions from one side without ensuring that the instructions came from both parties involved.
The reason behind most cases of negligence is an error in internal procedures rather than a mistake in the exercise of the law. Some of these issues come from not maintaining accurate records and updated data filing systems. Other issues can come from simple human error on the part of junior staff or even failure to properly understand and obtain instructions from their clients.
Even if you do not have a formal contract with the solicitor in question, if they have provided you with some sort of official advice they assume a certain level of responsibility. If you act on the information provided and meet with a legal debacle, you may still have the right to file claims against them.
We have experience in acting on claims against solicitors who have acted negligently, some of the more recent cases we have undertaken include:
- The failure of a solicitor to receive instructions from both owners of a jointly-owned property. This allowed one owner to benefit from mortgaging the property much to the detriment of the other owner.
- Missed limitation dates! In one case the solicitor was responsible for issuing acclaim for a badly drafted lease and in another the claims was to be made on contractual damages in the aftermath of a house purchase.
- Solicitors who fail to fully investigate defects in a property being purchased, for example, the lack of access to a property.
- Solicitors who fail to comply with a court order, resulting in a claim being rejected.
Causing Financial Loss
For the mistake made by your solicitor to be grounds for a claim of negligence, it must result in financial loss. In other words you will have to prove that if it hadn’t been for the negligence of your solicitor, you would not have suffered these financial losses. Even if your solicitor has made a serious error and obvious breach of duty, if the actions did not actually cause you financial loss, then you have no grounds for a claim.
If you have suffered losses caused by some exterior factor, such as the fluctuation of property values, independent of any negligence that is also not grounds for a claim. Nevertheless, if there was financial loss, a negligence claim will attempt to prove that the act of negligence placed you in a position you would not otherwise have been in but for the act of negligence.
Date of knowledge
Any claims for negligence must be made within three years of the date of the loss. However, if you had not become aware of the loss until after the three years had expired, you may still have a case. If this is the case, then you have three years from the date of knowledge of the loss in which to make the claim, or the date you should have reasonably known that the losses occurred. There is also a longer time limit of 15 years after which any such claim will be categorically denied.