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Defending a Professional Liability Claim

A professional liability claim can be stressful and potentially damaging to your reputation. If you are notified that you may face a claim, taking prompt action is strongly recommended.

As a professional or business owner, you should speak to a solicitor as soon as possible to ensure that you protect your position. You are also advised to notify your provider of professional indemnity insurance. Taking steps straightaway to address the situation can prevent matters escalating and give you the best chance of resolving matters without the need for litigation.

At Glanvilles, our dispute resolution and litigation solicitors have a high level of expertise in defending professional liability claims. Our team has handled or supervised the defence of thousands of claims over 38 years on instructions from insurers.

We represent professionals in a range of sectors, including solicitors, accountants, insurance brokers, surveyors and other construction professionals.

Wherever possible, we aim to find a solution without recourse to the courts. We will give you an honest appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and negotiate robustly on your behalf.

Our advice to you will be pragmatic and realistic. We will discuss the potential value of any claim and the best strategy for handling it. Where necessary, we can represent you in alternative dispute resolution to try and resolve the claim promptly and cost-effectively.

Our professional liability defence services include:

  • Advice on your position and the strength of the claim against you
  • Advice on the potential value of the claim
  • Negotiations on your behalf, where necessary
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Defending a claim filed in court

We have a proven track record of success in representing professionals against claims and we will be happy to hear from you if you feel that we can help you.

Get in touch with our professional liability solicitors in Chichester, Fareham and Havant

If you need advice and representation in defending a professional liability claim, contact our expert professional negligence defence solicitors in ChichesterFareham or Havant or fill in our simple online enquiry form for a quick response.

The Glanvilles guide to defending a professional liability claim

What to do if you are notified of a professional liability claim against you

Speak to your insurer

Your professional indemnity insurer will want to be notified of a potential claim as soon as possible. This may be a term of the insurance, but even if it is not, it is best practice to involve them from the start.

Instruct a solicitor

By asking an expert professional liability defence solicitor to represent you, you can avoid inadvertently damaging your case and ensure that you have the help that you need to deal with the claim against you. If you ask us to represent you, we will start work at once to assess the strength of the case and discuss the best course of action.

Record keeping

It is important that you have as much evidence as possible to support your claim. You are advised to write down exactly what happened and ensure that you preserve any documents in respect of the incident as these will form an important part of the case.

You will be required to disclose any relevant evidence, including anything that supports the claim against you. Even if you believe that a document could be harmful to your case, it is important not to destroy it or fail to share it as the court can penalise this type of action, for example, by making a costs order against you. Documents to be disclosed can include correspondence, emails, texts and voicemail messages.

Defending a professional liability claim

Professional negligence pre-action protocol

The Civil Procedure Rules set out the pre-action protocol that the parties to a potential claim should follow before legal proceedings begin. These are intended to ensure that both parties understand the issues, that relevant information is exchanged, that the case is managed efficiently, that costs are kept to a minimum and that proper attempts are made to resolve that matter out of court. Failure to follow the pre-action protocol can be penalised by the courts.

The first step is the issuing of a preliminary notice by the claimant. This should set out the details of their grievance and an estimate of the size of the claim.

As the defendant, you will be required to acknowledge receipt of the preliminary notice. Your solicitor can do this on your behalf. As soon as you receive a preliminary notice, you should send a copy to your insurer.

The claimant then has six months in which to issue a letter of claim, which is a more detailed argument setting out what happened, a list of documents provided and requested, details of the claimant’s losses, the amount of the claim, whether anything other than compensation is sought and whether the claimant is prepared to go to adjudication.

You have three months from the date of your letter of acknowledgement in which to provide a letter of response setting out details including whether the claim is admitted, why you dispute the claim, further information if requested, your estimate of the amount of the claim if you agree it and copies of relevant documents. This should be prepared by a solicitor with expertise in professional negligence defence.

Professional negligence evidence

The claimant will need to provide evidence showing that:

  • They were owed a duty of care
  • This duty of care was breached and the service they received was not of a level that would be expected of a reasonably competent professional in your field of expertise
  • The breach of the duty of care caused them losses
  • The extent of those losses

The claimant will also need to show that they took reasonable steps to mitigate their losses.

Professional negligence settlement

In some circumstances, it may be advisable to consider settling a professional negligence claim rather than going through a lengthy court battle. Once the full extent of the claim is known and all of the relevant documents exchanged, your solicitor will be able to advise you of the best course of action.

If a claim is settled, you can avoid spending many months or longer defending a case. You will be able to put the matter behind you and no longer have to spend time and resources dealing with it. Where this is the best option, we can negotiate on your behalf to try and ensure the payment is as minimal as possible. We may also be able to negotiate a confidentiality clause, although it should be noted that it is not possible to try to prevent a claimant from notifying a regulator or supervisory body or any other organisation operating in the public interest.

Professional negligence court hearing

Where it is not possible to settle a claim, your case will proceed to court. We can provide a strong case on your behalf and ensure that you are thoroughly prepared and represented by an expert professional negligence defence advocate.

Professional negligence FAQs

How long will it take to resolve a professional negligence claim?

The length of time taken to resolve a professional negligence claim will depend on how complex the case is and how much documentation there is to be exchanged as well as the other side’s willingness to negotiate.

Our professional negligence defence solicitors always work proactively to move matters forward promptly. We understand how stressful it can be to have a claim hanging over you and we always do all we can to find an acceptable solution with a minimum delay.

Who pays the legal costs in a professional negligence claim?

It is generally the case that the party who is not successful will pay the other side’s reasonable costs, which will usually be slightly lower than the actual costs they have incurred.

If a case reaches court, the judge will generally address the issue of costs when making a final order. It is open to the judge to penalise the parties’ conduct when dealing with costs. For example, where the claimant has not entered into negotiations to try and settle the matter outside of court or has not made full disclosure of all relevant information, the court could reduce the percentage of costs they receive.

If a case is dealt with by way of negotiated settlement, costs can be included as part of the settlement.

What is a Part 36 offer?

A Part 36 offer is an offer made to settle a claim under Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules. If you make an offer to the claimant to settle under Part 36, there could be consequences for the claimant if they refuse. If the case subsequently went to court and they did not beat the offer at court, the claimant will generally be required to pay your legal costs from the date of the offer onwards, as well as their own.

This means that a carefully-calculated Part 36 offer is a strong negotiating tactic that can be used to settle a claim. The other side will be wary of rejecting an offer and subsequently failing to exceed the offer because the costs of taking a case from offer to trial can be substantial.

The Glanvilles’ client service promise

When you use our professional liability defence service, we promise:

  • Our staff will be friendly, respectful and attentive.
  • Your concerns will be listened to, your questions answered, and your options explained in plain English.
  • The cost of dealing with your requirements will be made clear to you from the outset.
  • We will answer your phone calls and emails promptly.
  • We will keep you regularly updated at all times.

For more information about our services, see corporate lawyers.

Get in touch with our expert professional liability defence solicitors in Chichester, Fareham and Havant

Contact our highly experienced professional liability solicitors in Chichester, Fareham or Havant or fill in our simple online enquiry form for a quick response.