It's good to talk...

The professional negligence team at Cripps has recently successfully settled several claims on behalf of claimants acting against firms of solicitors relating to property transactions. 

Whilst the claims involved different types of property and different mistakes being made, several themes have again emerged which are common to many negligence claims against different professionals.

First, proving the negligence (that the professional made a mistake) is only the start.  Understandably, many people tend to focus on this when they first contemplate a claim, but the issues of causation and calculating the loss suffered are often the more important questions, which become the focus of the legal argument.  (See "Liability - but only nominal damages - in yacht purchase negligence" for a recent example of this!) 

The client's assistance in providing comprehensive information relating to losses and the lawyers' appreciation of the complexities in the law surrounding causation are crucial for an early and realistic assessment of the likely recovery in a claim.

Second, particularly in light of the tougher regime facing claimants and their lawyers in relation to the recovery of legal costs, in the majority of cases it is beneficial to establish a constructive dialogue with the opposing party in order to maximise the chance of a settlement at a relatively early stage.

Any solicitor can write an aggressive letter, but avoiding the costs, risks and stress of court proceedings for the client is an objective worth exploring.  There are many ways in which a settlement may be reached (e.g. without prejudice conversations, Part 36 Offers, meetings, mediation) and claimant lawyers should be ready to use whatever means are best suited to the particular circumstances of the case to achieve the best overall result.