A Professional’s Duty of Care – Professional Negligence Overview Part I
Whether there is a professional negligence claim against a professional who has given wrong advice or made a mistake can be a very important question for businesses, individuals, and other parties affected by the advice.
To determine liability the law asks the following questions:
- Did the professional owe a ‘duty of care’ to their client?
- Did the professional owe a ‘duty of care’ to anyone else (third parties)?
- Was that duty of care ‘breached’?
- Was the loss suffered caused by the professional’s breach of duty (in fact and in law)?
- What was the loss?
We will be looking at the above questions over our next few blog posts.
Here, in Part I, we will be looking at when a professional owes a duty of care to their client.
Duty of care
Professionals usually enter into contracts with their clients before they provide any services or do any work. Under the law of contract both the professional and the client have to keep their end of the bargain (for example, by doing the work and paying for the work respectively).
In addition to these contractual obligations, the law imposes a ‘duty of care’ on professionals. It requires a professional to act with the same care and skill to be expected from a reasonably competent member of their profession. For example, a property solicitor has a duty to act with the care and skill of a reasonably competent solicitor in that field of expertise when giving advice.
It is possible that a professional may make a mistake or breach a contractual term without necessarily being negligent.
It is also possible that a professional may owe someone a duty of care even if there is no contractual relationship.