Claims against professionals can be complex and are likely to require a large degree of specialist legal knowledge. In order to give yourself the best possible chance of achieving a successful claim, it is essential to be represented by a professional negligence solicitor with experience and knowledge of all the important areas. Oratto is here to help you ensure that you are connected with the legal expertise to benefit your claim for professional negligence compensation.
Feel free to browse the solicitor profiles featured in this section, all of which belong to solicitors who are experienced in this field. If you would like our help in choosing the member professional negligence lawyer most suited to your particular needs our Oratto Match facility can help. Just fill in some details and we'll do the rest. Then you are free to make your choice of legal professional from our suggestions.
One of the first things all member professional negligence solicitors will want to establish with you is that the professional you are claiming against actually owed you a duty of care.
Duty of care
Duty of care is one of the founding principles of tort law and aims to protect many parties, including the clients of professionals, from harm and unnecessary financial loss.
As such, those who owe a duty of care are obliged to compensate any person or party who suffers harm or loss as a result of a breach of that duty.
Perhaps the most famous definition of negligence in English case law was made by Baron Alderson in the 1856 case of Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks. In establishing the crux of the case he said:
Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided upon those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do. The defendants might have been liable for negligence, if, unintentionally, they omitted to do that which a reasonable person would have done, or did that which a person taking reasonable precautions would not have done.
Donoghue v Stevenson
The principle of duty of care has developed through case law over centuries and has been established as a legal principle by many important cases in the 20th century, notably in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson, in which a consumer proved that the manufacturer of a defective ginger beer (the bottle contained a putrefied snail) owed her a duty of care, despite there being no explicit contractual relationship. As such, the claimant was awarded compensation for gastroenteritis and nervous shock with the judge, Lord Atkin, ruling that the manufacturer owed a duty of care under the "neighbour principle":
The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer's question: Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be - persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions that are called in question.
Anns v Merton London Borough Council
The truth and applicability of the neighbour principle for professional negligence claims was affirmed in the 1972 case of Anns v Merton London Borough Council, in which the council was sued for a negligently constructed, and therefore defective, maisonette apartment complex. The judges established that there was a prima facie duty of care; a ruling which has since become known as the Anns test.
Caparo v Dickman
In all professional-client relationships, the professional is obliged to not cause the client harm or loss.
When the duty of care is not clear, it may be possible to prove the duty by using principles derived from Caparo v Dickman. These are as follows:
- Can it be said that the harm was reasonably foreseeable?
- Did the claimant and defendant have a relationship of proximity?
- Can the imposition of a duty of care be considered just and reasonable given the particulars of the relationship?
The case also marked a slight departure from the Anns test by underlining the necessity of establishing both proximity and forseeability of harm in negligence cases.
Find a professional negligence solicitor with Oratto
Oratto can help you find the professional negligence solicitor who is right for you and the circumstances of your case.
To get connected today call us or click through to the member professional negligence lawyer profiles on the right-hand-side of this page.