COMMON CLAIMS AGAINST SOLICITORS: RISKS WITHIN THE LEGAL SECTOR

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The SRA Code of Conduct (which regulates more than 160,000 professionals in the UK) dictates that all solicitors need the appropriate level of Professional Indemnity Insurance to provide protection against professional negligence claims from their clients.

It’s important to be aware of what risks these could be and how, if the proper protection isn’t in place, the speed at which it can put your entire firm at risk. With recent proposals to increase court fees it’s more important than ever to ensure you have protection against the costs of claims.

1. MISSING LIMITATION DATES OR COURT DEADLINES

There are a number of areas in legal proceedings which are time sensitive under the Limitation Act 1980, such as the three year statute of limitations for claims based on medical diagnoses, which can cause a client’s case to fall apart if the deadlines aren’t stuck to. Regardless of the reasons behind it, claims of this nature are not uncommon and everything from issues with interpretation of a case, to recording important details can be a cause.

2. ERRORS MADE IN CONTRACT OR WILL DRAFTS

Errors can have significant implications for a client, resulting in everything from employment contracts not protecting either or both parties, to a client’s wishes not being upheld in the event of their death. Some of these issues may not become apparent until a number of years later, but this can often lead to direct financial loss of clients that increases the risk of a successful negligence claim.

3. POOR ADVICE ON BUILDING REGULATIONS & PLANNING PERMISSION

Relying on the advice of a solicitor is common in these situations, whether that’s planning extensions to an existing property or developing new build properties. In the event of unclear or incorrect advice in these situations, the consequences can incur significant financial losses for your client and result in a negligence claim.

4. PROVIDING INCORRECT / INAPPROPRIATE LEGAL ADVICE

Any kind of inappropriate or incorrect legal advice can cause the wrong actions to be taken by a client, and for major financial implications to arise – whether that’s an individual or business. This could lead to the wrong party being sued in a negligence case, or a client not taking action when they could have been entitled to do so.

5. OVER OR UNDERVALUATION OF ASSETS

Whether at a corporate level or at an individual level, the overvaluation or undervaluation of a client’s assets can have far reaching financial and legal consequences. This is mainly because it can drastically affect what type of legal guidance is given or the action which is taken relating to claims, contracts or wills. Incorrect valuation could cause financial loss, resulting in a professional negligence claim against your firm – but an error which can chiefly be protected through a PI insurance policy, which will cover or at least minimise the impact of financial effects.

HOW CAN YOUR FIRM ENSURE FINANCIAL PROTECTION?

There are a number of action points which your firm can undertake to ensure instances of these claims are minimised. Professional Indemnity Insurance for solicitors can help deal with those cases which still arise – protecting your business and ensuring the negative impact is significantly reduced.

As the SRA Code of Conduct dictates, an appropriate level of professional indemnity insurance is a key way to protect your firm from professional negligence claims – with the key effect of claims being significant financial loss.

September 21, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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