Stephensons Solicitors LLP: Has your Solicitor been Negligent?
Solicitor negligence can occur in many different areas of law, but there are some in which it tends to be more common
The solicitor-client relationship requires a considerable level of trust. The decision to use a solicitor is often taken in order to deal with a particularly stressful time of life, for example divorce, problems at work and with respect to big financial decisions such as buying a house.
This means that when issues do arise, the consequences can be far reaching. Solicitor negligence can occur in many different areas of law, but there are some in which it tends to be more common:
Buying and selling properties can be a complex business and this is why most people will normally involve an experienced conveyancing solicitor to act on their behalf.
Unfortunately, where a mistake is made in a property transaction, the consequences can be serious and the financial implications considerable. Common errors may include not providing proper advice on how two or more owners should hold the property i.e. whether as joint tenants or tenants in common. There is usually guidance on which of these is the most appropriate in various situations – for example, where one person has made a larger contribution then joint tenants may be more suitable.
A conveyancing solicitor may also fail to carry out or advise on certain searches, or submit the necessary documentation to HMRC, both of which could give rise to a claim for negligence.
Wills and probate
The importance of ensuring that your last wishes are effectively recorded is not to be underestimated. Negligence in Wills and Probate law can result in the estate not being distributed according to the deceased’s wishes, or certain parts of the Will being deemed invalid.
Solicitor negligence can arise when a Will has not been properly drafted (there is a duty on the solicitor to take reasonable skill and care when writing the Will) or if it has not been properly executed.
A claim against a family law solicitor for negligence is most common in divorce cases, and will usually arise where something the solicitor has done has resulted in a lower settlement for their client. For example, not obtaining full disclosure in financial claims or providing advice to a client that they should have certain marital assets, which then results in a lower settlement.
Where a personal injury claim is made outside the limitation period, there may be a claim for negligence, as well as where poor advice has been given with respect to costs – including whether legal aid is likely to be available.
A personal injury solicitor also has a duty to give adequate advice about settlement offers, and where there has been loss as a result of a client not being properly advised as to the consequences of not accepting such an offer there may be a claim for negligence.
The most common mistake is when a solicitor does not ensure a employment claim is made within the limitation period, which for some is just three months. With such a short time frame in place, negligence can and does arise.
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