Professional negligence claims are becoming more frequent, as clients seek to recover losses and look for someone to “blame”.

Professional negligence occurs when a professional has failed to fulfil their duty of care to a reasonable standard. How “reasonable” is defined will depend on the circumstances, such as the person’s role and duties as a professional.

There are huge costs involved in defending a claim, including insurance excesses, down time, stress and loss of reputation, even if you are vindicated.

Set out below are 12 tips gleaned from our experience representing professionals in many different fields that will help protect you from future professional negligence claims:

  1. Keep clients well informed – good communication is the key.
  2. Diary deadlines and set up a prompt well in advance.
  3. Explain the fees investment clients will be making and bill regularly (and monitor accounts receivable on a regular basis).
  4. Maintain a reasonable workload – overloaded professionals often fail to provide their clients with a timely service and do not always have time to ensure quality.
  5. Stick to your knitting – avoid areas where you do not have expertise.
  6. Maintain client confidentiality.
  7. Have clear terms of trade and keep client files well organized.
  8. Return client phone calls and respond to client correspondence in a timely fashion.  Keep good notes of what is said.
  9. Allocate the time necessary to carry out tasks completely.
  10. Be alert to client dissatisfaction and deal with it early.
  11. Maintain quality control.
  12. Use management techniques that enhance efficiency.

Sticking to these simple tips will help avoid those worrying and expensive claims, and of course enhance business from satisfied clients.

It is important to know your duties as a professional. If you are confused about your obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors