What should I do if I get given bad advice?
If your solicitor gives you advice which you later discover was incorrect, you should seek the advice of a Professional Negligence Solicitor to determine if you have a cause of action against your solicitor for negligence.
There is always a reason to seek advice when advice turns out to be incorrect, particularly if you become aware that your solicitor was not a specialist in that area of law. Solicitors and other legal professionals should only practice in areas for which they hold competence. If they receive instruction in an area that they are not competent in, the matter should be delegated to someone that is experienced in that area.
A solicitor does have the opportunity to research and learn about a particular area to see if they would be able to properly advise on the matter. However that research should be held to the same standard as if they were experienced in that field. A solicitor cannot avoid liability by using the defence that they are not experienced in the area they provided incorrect advice on.
As you would probably guess, giving advice is one of the main functions of a Solicitor. If incorrect advice is given on a point of common occurrence where the law is clear, there is a strong presumption of negligence. This may arise in cases where a Solicitor has given advice based on a misunderstanding of statute or incorrectly advised a client on the limitation period applicable to their claim, leading a claim to become statute barred. In these instances, the Court will look to see if the point of law was a straightforward one, and most importantly whether you have suffered financial loss because of the incorrect advice.
What if incorrect advice is given on a point of law that is not straight forward? In these instances, the Court takes a different approach. If a Solicitor provides incorrect advice in an area where the law is difficult, then the Solicitor will not be negligent so long as the opinion expressed was a reasonable one. However, the Solicitor must qualify the advice by a warning that it may not be correct and therefore is in doubt. There are some exceptions to this, for example where the advice was clearly a matter of opinion on a moot point.
When giving practical advice, a slight error in judgment is less likely to amount to negligence. However plainly wrong advice on a course of action will amount to negligence. In these instances, the more the advice is based on legal considerations, the more it is likely that it will be found to be negligent if the advice is wrong.
Fortunately, if you have incurred a financial loss which you believe to be due to incorrect advice, you do not need to spend hours researching a point of law to decipher if it is a straightforward matter or if the advice given was practical advice. Specters Solicitors offer complimentary and non-obligatory consultations. If we believe there is cause for a claim, we will consider accepting instructions in your claim against your former solicitor on a no win no fee basis, which means you will only have to pay our legal fees if you win your claim.