It is not unusual for claimants to complain that their solicitor’s negligence has caused them considerable stress and inconvenience.
This is understandable as the solicitor may have been acting in a matter in which the client has a high emotional investment or the solicitor’s failings have caused a great deal of extra work for their client.
Take for example a client who is a party in a divorce. That client may be upset about the breakup of the marriage and worried about financial security. There may also be a sense of injustice if the other party is perceived as trying to hide assets. Any negligence by the solicitor which results in an unfair financial settlement is likely to heighten the client’s stress and may have caused the client inconvenience in trying to piece together evidence to prove the settlement is unfair, making up for a failure in the solicitor’s enquiries.
In this situation if the client pursues a successful negligence claim against their solicitor it might be expected that the Court would consider and compensate the claimant for the stress and inconvenience he or she has suffered as a result of the solicitors negligence.
Perhaps surprisingly this expectation is misconceived. Historically the Courts have been reluctant to allow claims for stress and inconvenience as a matter of public policy in professional negligence claims. This is perhaps not surprising as it is easy to see the “floodgates” opening if such claims were regularly allowed as it would be likely any client let down by a negligent solicitor has suffered stress and inconvenience to some extent.
However, there isn’t an absolute bar to such claims but the circumstances must be quite exceptional before the Court will allow damages to be awarded.
An example of such exceptional circumstances was highlighted in the case of Shaw v Leigh Day where the Court considered as a preliminary issue whether the claimant could claim damages for distress as part of her negligence claim. The solicitors had represented her in an inquest and had allegedly failed to put evidence before the coroner and jury which may have influenced the outcome. The Judge ruled that public policy would not prevent the claimant from pursuing her claim for distress at Trial and said that “Inquests have an emotional element that is unique and absent from other forms of legal process. If the solicitor retained to put the necessary materials before the Coroner and jury does not carry out his or her job with sufficient diligence, the client will never receive that comfort.”
Most professional negligence claims will not meet the strict criteria to allow a claim for stress and inconvenience. However, if you have suffered loss as a result of your solicitor’s negligence Jordans may be able to help you.
Our experienced team of professional negligence solicitors are experts in pursuing professional negligence claims against solicitors. We understand that your past experience with solicitors may make you wary which is why we’re open, honest and transparent every step of the way. We can be contacted free on 0330 300 1103 or you can request a call back.