Professional negligence claims in tort, some illustrations and points
In most cases where a claimant wishes to pursue a professional for negligence compensation, the case will be brought in contract. We live in world of regulations and agreements, so contracts are very much the norm in formalising the relationship of obligations and duties between professional and client.
However, in some cases where a contract does not exist or does not adequately cover the area of negligence being claimed for, it may be possible to bring about a claim in tort.
In most cases in order to claim in tort it will be necessary to claim that there has been some significant financial loss. However, it can be difficult to ascertain a definition of what this means.
Precedent for pursing a professional for negligence compensation in tort, for economic loss, is derived from a number of sources of case law.
One important case is Storey v Charles Church Developments. In this case it was found that the claimant had reasonably relied on a statement given outside of the contract.
However, this case contradicted earlier decisions, such as Murphy v Brentwood District Council, where in superficially similar circumstances the defendant was found not to be liable for statements made outside of the contract.
Furthermore, it may be possible to claim in tort in the event that a claimant does not, nor indeed has ever had, a formalized or contractual relationship with the defendant.
For example, in Baxall Securities v Sheard Walshaw Partnership, an architect was found liable for the financial loss suffered by a claimant as a result of a defectively designed guttering system. Because the claimant had purchased the building in question from the client’s architect rather than having any formal relationship with the architect, it had been necessary for the claim to be made in tort.
Time limits in tort
In contract the Limitation Act 1980 imposes a strict limitation for claiming within six to 12 years of the breach of contract. However, in tort, this period is extended, in many cases, to a period of 15 years.
Healys LLP professional negligence specialists
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We are in London and Brighton and have helped claimants secure damages from all types of professionals, including architects, accountants, barristers, financial advisors, and valuers.
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