Professional negligence the then, the here and now, and the crystal ball
We all like to think we can place our trust in a legal advisor, solicitor, lawyer or barrister. However, the reality is that this trust sometimes proves misplaced and sometimes this is for unacceptable reasons.
Most of the time we might put up with the poor service, even registering a complaint to the firm or ombudsman concerned, but if the poor service has also caused financial loss, perhaps we have been undersettled because of the failings of a personal injury lawyer, commercial lawyer or family lawyer, we might rightly claim that we have a right to some kind of compensation
Legal professionals – the days of immunity are long gone
As recently as just a couple of decades ago barristers could not be held accountable for their negligent work. Nowadays though, they, like others in the sector whether solicitors or claims companies, must have professional indemnity insurance in place to provide for the payout of professional negligence claims. It might have been long overdue, but at least UK lawmakers finally got around to redressing what can only be termed as a terrible inconsistency and injustice.
Accountability is the future
As a result of a larger body of legislation, as well as case law, making a professional negligence claim today is a more realistic proposition than ever before – although it is arguable that recent reforms brought about by the Jackson Report have reduced access to justice for the less well-off members of society.
Provided your case has relatively strong foundations, today you can commence a claim for conveyancing negligence, personal injury negligence, wills negligence, family and matrimonial law negligence, commercial law negligence and more.
A poorer service
You could be forgiven for thinking that greater accountability had resulted in a more reliable quality of service – you might be wrong though.
One study, the tongue-twistingly titled The Impact of Macroeconomic Trends on London Market Claims, predicts that the Jackson Reforms have led to greater scope for negligence.
p>Apparently, the reforms have “led to work being assigned to inexperienced and junior staff – which will lead to mistakes, and to claims”.
The report continues: “In tandem with the increased use of a variety of business structures, we are seeing changes to business models, and a move away from the traditional ‘hourly rate’ to fixed and capped fees.
“From reforms to legal education and training, to increases in new methods of working; from the use of new technology to the outsourcing of key functions and the creation of ‘outpost’ offices by major firms, the rapid pace of reform within the sector is likely to result in claims as new systems and processes are tested to their limit.”
And with courts taking a dimmer than ever view of solicitors who fail to comply with a stricter regime of court rules and procedures, perhaps the government has already failed in its mission to reduce the incidence of legal professional negligence claims.