Solicitors are only human and can sometimes make mistakes. The usual scenarios where solicitors may be called out for professional negligence would be a negligence from missing deadlines, defective property titles, insufficient or incorrect legal advice, negligently drafted Wills, dishonesty and misconduct.
Like any professional, solicitors owe a duty of care to both their clients and to third parties who suffer any loss or damage due to their professional negligence. A solicitor who is appointed by a client to carry out a transaction that will be an advantage on an unknown third party will owe a duty of care to that third party, because that third party is a person within their direct peripheral as someone who is likely to be so strongly affected by their acts or omissions that they can reasonably foresee that the third party is likely to be hurt by those acts or omissions. There needs to be a close and direct relationship characterised by the law as proximity or neighbourhood; and the situation is fair, just reasonable that the law should impose the duty of the given scope upon the one party for the benefit of the other.
In order to bring a claim against a solicitor for professional negligence, you must first establish that the solicitor or the law firm that you have been a client of has been negligent. There is a difference between negligence and professional misconduct. If there has been unreasonable delay, it may be possible for the client to claim damages against the negligent solicitor through the Legal Complaints Service, which can be up to 15,000 in compensation. There are many cases where solicitors are liable for inadequate professional service but not negligence.
What needs to be established in a claim for professional negligence is that it is proved that the solicitor owed the client a duty of care. In most cases, the negligence involves the client directly rather than a third party but a third party does sometimes become an issue when looking at the context of a solicitor's duty and whether there has been a breach of their duty of care. Once a duty of care has been established, it is essential to prove the loss suffered was caused by the actions of the solicitor. In most cases, unless the client can establish that he has suffered loss as a result of the negligence, the claim will fail.
As with any claim, a case of professional negligence will mean that a claimant is under an obligation to mitigate their losses and must take whatever steps necessary to reduce or mitigate those losses. Such a duty does not normally extend to starting proceedings unless the solicitor provides an indemnity for these costs.