Firms of solicitors owe their clients a duty of care and must always act in their clients’ best interests. So, for a professional negligence claim against your lawyer to succeed, you must prove that they failed in their duty of care towards you. This can be done by establishing that they failed to meet the professional standards required of them.

Regardless of the lawyer’s experience, the standard they must meet is that of a ‘reasonably competent practitioner’. If the lawyer is, or claims to be, a specialist in employment law, they will instead be held to the standard of a reasonably competent specialist practitioner of employment law.

If it can be proved that your lawyer failed in their duty of care, it must then be shown that:

  • you suffered a loss; and
  • this loss was caused by your lawyer failing in their duty

For an example of how this might look in an employment claim, imagine you have just been dismissed from your job and you believe your employer did so unfairly. You consult an employment lawyer who advises you that you have a strong claim for unfair dismissal. You instruct them to act on your behalf in making a claim. But, due to the lawyer’s carelessness, they miss the deadline for filing your claim.

Your solicitor has now breached their duty of care towards you; their carelessness clearly shows they have fallen below the standard of a reasonably competent employment lawyer.

Because the deadline was missed, you are prevented from making your unfair dismissal claim against your employer – through no fault of your own. And so the lawyer’s breach of duty has caused you potential financial loss, i.e. the compensation you might have received from your unfair dismissal claim.

If you made a professional negligence claim against the employment lawyer, you would be seeking payment of the likely compensation award of your unfair dismissal claim, as well as any other losses the lawyer’s conduct might have caused you.

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