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Accounting firms should be bracing themselves for a rise in professional negligence claims as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Solicitors and barristers owe a duty to their clients to act with reasonable care and skill at all times, not least when conducting settlement negotiations and providing advice on settlement. With the majority of claims settling outside of court, common complaints of negligence in this area include giving incorrect or negligent advice about settlement offers, failing to properly assess the value of the claim or advising a client to “under settle” a claim.
All professionals are under a duty to exercise skill and care when acting for clients. In particular, a professional is judged by the standard of a reasonably competent professional specialising in the area in which they hold themselves out as having expertise in. If the professional fails in this duty then there could be a potential claim for negligence.
Delay is a common complaint in professional negligence claims against solicitors in the context of wills and probate. For example, If a client is in poor health or advanced old age and wants to create or update their will, they might instruct a solicitor to assist with this. If the client dies before the new will can be prepared and/or executed, the beneficiaries who would have inherited, had the will been put in place before the client’s death, may look to bring a professional negligence claim against the solicitor if there has been undue delay by the solicitor in preparing the will.
Solicitors in any field of practice are under a duty to exercise reasonable care and skill when acting for clients. In wills and probate practice, that duty also extends to the beneficiaries of a testator. If the solicitor has acted in breach of that duty, which causes loss to the client or their beneficiaries, this could form the basis for a professional negligence claim against the solicitor.
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