When Is Professional Advice Not Professional Advice?

11th October 2018 by

People take professional advice all the time, and rely on it. A professional who gives advice will normally not only have the appropriate qualifications but will also be covered by the firm’s professional indemnity policy, so that if their advice turns out to be negligent, the client can be compensated.

A person who acts on professional advice and suffers a loss can take action against the firm, but only if they can show they suffered the loss as a direct result of following the advice, that they would have acted differently had the advice not been given and that the giver of the advice owed them a duty of care.

In a recent case, a developer who proceeded with the purchase of a site which was later found to contain asbestos, the removal of which required significant expenditure, took action against the geotechnical experts who prepared the site report for the council that sold it the land.

The geotechnical firm knew their report would be made available to potential purchasers, but stipulated that it was for the council’s use only and inserted a clause excluding third party rights and any liability for environmental contamination. As well as denying negligence, it denied it owed a duty of care to the purchaser.

The High Court agreed there was no duty of care and the claim could not therefore proceed.

The clear message for prospective purchasers of property is to make sure that legal rights are clear before the deal is completed. If additional comfort on any aspect of the property is needed, it should be obtained under a contract with clear terms.

Professional advice that comes from someone who does not owe you a duty of care will not normally give you a right of redress if it is wrong. At Healys, we can advise you how to protect yourself from unexpected losses in property contracts. Contact our Property Dispute experts on 020 7822 4000, or email propertydisputes@healys.com.