Professional Negligence

Apart from handling ordinary claims for negligence, we at GSC are often consulted regarding alleged failures by professionals, such as solicitors, accountants, surveyors and architects.  Usually any such claim involves the professional’s insurers who appoint one of their panel of solicitors within their vast team of lawyers and what may appear to be unlimited resource.

This area of the law is governed by a special protocol which requires many steps to be taken before court proceedings can be commenced.  The protocol’s aim is to get both sides of the dispute to set out their respective position with some clarity and supported (if appropriate) by expert evidence.  The parties are then encouraged to resolve the matter without troubling the Court.  In practice (and we accept some may think as cynical) insurance companies often like to use the Protocol to delay matters for as long as possible.

The Court’s attitude to professional negligence claims can vary depending upon financial and social market conditions.  For example, in a surveyor’s valuation negligence claims, the Court has repeatedly rejected any attempt to claim against the drop-in value of a property interest due to a fall in the property market, even though the negligent valuation took place in a different market and the purchaser has missed out.

The first point to consider in a potential claim against a professional is to establish the precise ambit of the professional’s retainer.  For example, if legal advice is sought on a transaction, a lawyer may try to exclude the tax ramifications of the transaction.  However in 2017 the Court of Appeal decided that a solicitor has a duty to notify his client that whilst he took one view as to the validity of the tax scheme, it was possible that the Revenue might take a different view and a failure to so explain was negligent.  In reality the Court will expect a client to be told of the risks in the transactions and the options open to him so the client can form a view and whether to take the risk.

It is to be noted that the fact that something goes wrong does not mean the professional is automatically liable.  The test is what a competent professional would have done in the circumstances of the case and that can require expert evidence to be produced.

There are lawyers who are not happy to sue other lawyers but at GSC we don’t have such qualms.  If we consider another professional has not given advice to a competent standard we will advise our clients pursue a claim.  We have found that in most cases the insurance company will eventually make an offer provided sufficient pressure is brought upon them or they are faced by trial unless for the insurance company the case raises a matter of principle upon which it considers people would be helped by a Court judgement.

Michael’s excellent legal knowledge, guidance and professionalism enabled a successful defence. He is a straight talker, getting to the heart of the issues quickly. Tactically astute with excellent negotiation skills. I would highly recommend Michael in any Commercial litigation.

Michael Shapiro is concise in his advice and adopts a pragmatic approach to challenges delivering realistic and enterprising solutions which produce results.

Michael is our first call whenever we need any legal advice. Straight talking, commercial astute, knowledgeable and honest, he has consistently produced results that result in better outcomes for my business. I am pleased to call him our lawyer and partner.

I have known Michael for 15 years, he is dynamic in his approach to the various problems we have put his way. He gets to the heart of the problem quickly and provides a very workable solution. His litigation skills are excellent and forceful with the other party. I very much like him on my side.

Michael Shapiro is an experienced litigator who has a very calm and collected approach to his job. He is never phased by the other side, and has an excellent manner with even the most difficult clients.

Have a Question? Get in touch

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you resolve commercial disputes, please contact:

Michael ShapiroMichael Shapiro, Partner and Head of Litigation on email at, or telephone on 020 7822 2222
Barry Samuels – ConsultantBarry Samuels, Solicitor/Consultant on email at, or telephone on
020 7822 2222

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