Our Professional Negligence for Business Expertise

Our reputation for expertise in the field of professional negligence claims is bolstered by our knowledge and understanding of a number of specialist sectors.

Lender claims

We have a team that acts for a number of lenders in claims against solicitors and surveyors arising from commercial and residential lending transactions.  Claims are often complex and high value.

Where a lender’s security for its loans lies in land or property and it emerges that the value of the security taken is insufficient to cover the borrower’s indebtedness, the lender will usually wish to review the advice given by the professionals involved in the transaction to establish if they were negligent.

We have a long history of advising lenders in claims for professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and/or fraud against its advisers in such circumstances.

Our lenders professional negligence team deal with:

  • Claims against valuers for the negligent valuation of residential and commercial property and land.
  • Claims against bank monitoring surveyors.
  • Claims against building surveyors.
  • Claims against solicitors for negligent, defective or inadequate advice during the course of Residential or commercial property transactions.
  • Claims against solicitors for breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Claims in fraud and deceit against solicitors,  surveyors  and mortgage brokers
  • Insurance coverage disputes relating to aggregation and other coverage issues.

We are experienced in investigating entire portfolios of properties in order to identify and pursue managed lists of claims together which helps to reduce costs and avoids duplication of work and arguments.

The team is supported as appropriate by our non-contentious Banking and Finance group.

Financial Services

We have a team which is dedicated to claimant work against financial services professionals for negligence and misselling.  The solicitors in this team are all dual qualified and hold financial services qualification.

Team members either hold the CII Certificate in Financial Planning and/or are studying for the higher level Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. These are the present and future benchmark qualifications for financial advisers and thus give us genuine industry-related expertise.  This is rare if not unique in the market.

Claims are most commonly brought against:

The team acts for:

  • Private individuals
  • Financial advisers
  • Networks
  • Pension trustees
  • FSCS

The team deals with claims against IFAs, stock brokers, mortgage brokers, trustees arising out of:

  • Product mis-selling.
  • Negligent investment advice – IFAs, stock brokers.
  • Negligent financial management advice.
  • Breaches of FSA conduct of business rules.
  • Advice in relation to pension transfers.
  • Pensions and funds – acting for pension scheme members and trustees in disputes concerning, for example, HMRC rules, the removal of trustees and administrators and ill-health retirement
  • Regulatory issues – Advising on issues relating to FSA authorisation, regulated activities and supervisory visits, and we act in associated disputes.
  • Ombudsman applications
  • FSCS applications

Collective litigation – We have a very successful track record in organising group litigation projects (for example our successful claim on behalf of over 400 Equitable Life With-Profits Annuitants).  We are currently representing several hundred clients in a Francovich action against HM Treasury, based on the FSA’s failure to close down an unauthorised (and fraudulent) investment firm, as required by European Directives (the FSA is itself immune from suit).

Agriculture

Clarke Willmott has a well-known sector group specialising in the affairs of farmers and Landowners, We also have a team dedicated to professional negligence work in an agricultural context.

The team acts for farming business of all sizes and sorts and both private estates and institutional land owners in disputes arising from all aspects of their business, financial affairs and estate management.

Recent years have seen a continually growing client base among businesses operating in the broader “Agri-business” sector who value our permanent Bristol presence.

Claims in this sector often involve:

  • Accountants
  • Solicitors
  • Land agents
  • Surveyors
  • Farm business consultants
  • Government departments and NGOs

The team is supported by a non-contentious group which is nationally regarded as a leader in the agricultural sector for transactional and management work.

Construction

We have a team specialising in professional negligence work in a construction context.

The team acts for a broad range of clients from across the industry, including employer developers, large-scale national and international contractors, funders and professional consultants as well as specialist subcontractors.

They have particular expertise in specialise in infrastructure, renewable energy (especially large scale windfarms).

The team includes a multi-disciplinary lawyer (dual qualified engineer, QS, project manager) and adjudicator (Peter O’Brie).

Members of this team sit on construction industry groups with other first and second tier lawyers, for example; Constructing Excellence (Anna-Liisa Blanks-Walden).

Claims handled by this team will frequently involve negligence by:

  • Engineers
  • Monitoring surveyors
  • Quantity surveyors
  • Building surveyors
  • Planning consultants
  • Architects

The team handles only disputes in a construction context and is supported by a the wider construction team.

Insolvent parties

Professional negligence claims often arise amongst the assets of an insolvent person or a company.

We are often instructed by liquidators to pursue claims against negligent professionals on behalf of insolvent companies.  Such claims most often arise against solicitors, accountants and tax advisors.  They frequently involve:

  • Issues arising under the Insolvency Act 1986
  • Applications for security for costs
  • Compelling witnesses to give evidence
  • Locating and recovering documents and other evidence

We are able to support these claims with conditional fee arrangements in order to prevent the claimant’s assets from being further diluted.

Conversely, we are frequently instructed against insolvent defendants of all kinds.  Such claims often involve:

  • Restoration of Companies
  • Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act 1930
  • Insurance coverage disputes
  • Asset tracing

The team is supported by a specialist insolvency team, who are able to take on any enforcement action under the Insolvency Act.

Solicitors

Both businesses and individuals rely on solicitors in all manner of affairs.  We find that the most common errors arise from:

  • Property transactions – usually involving prior charges, rights of way, errors in title, encumbrances on the title, errors arising from plans.
  • Commercial drafting – errors in drafting partnership agreements, sale and purchase agreements, share transfer agreements, commercial contracts.
  • Drafting and advice in relation to wills – this can be a painful and distressing matter for the beneficiaries to resolve.
  • Litigation advice – missed limitation deadlines, under settlement, advice to pursue a weak claim, loss of a chance.

Unlike many of the insurance firms who defend these claims, our professional negligence team is supported by specialist non-contentious teams who practice in these disciplines on a daily basis.