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Professional Negligence

When you engage a professional adviser for their services, like a lawyer or accountant, you have certain expectations on how those services will be delivered.

For example, you expect the professional knows what they are doing, that they will use their best endeavors in providing their service to you, and they will act in your best interests.

Generally those expectations are captured in the duty of care owed to you by the professional, which arises from your contract of engagement with the professional or by the nature of your relationship with the professional. If those duties are breached you may be able to make a claim against the professional to recover damages for losses resulting from the breach. This is known as a professional negligence claim.

Professional negligence claims can be tricky as they require proof of your relationship with the professional, how the professional ought to have acted, how they fell short of the standard required and the loss suffered by you as a result. Further, with reputations on the line, professional negligence claims can be hard be hard fought.

The team at Meyer Vandenberg can guide you through the complexities of a non-medical professional negligence claim, to explain your legal position and options to enforce your rights against a professional that has done you wrong.

What we do

  • Take the time to consider all of the facts and circumstances of your matter to enable us to make a proper assessment of whether you may have a claim and the prospects of your claim.
  • If necessary, work with you to pick up where your previous lawyer left off and undertake tasks as required to protect your interests.
  • Consider your legal position based on the current state of relevant law, and determine the best strategy to pursue your claim against a previous non-medical adviser.
  • Deliver advice in plain-English about your legal position, options for the next steps and our recommendations tailored to your situation and based on our expertise.
  • Prepare letters of demand.
  • Prepare and run court proceedings (litigation) for you, either claiming or defending, including appeals.
  • Negotiate at any time with the other parties to resolve your matter as quickly as possible on terms acceptable to you, whether the negotiation be formally by mediation or informally by communications between the parties (and their lawyers).
  • Prepare and help you execute documents recording and giving effect to settlement reached between the parties or court orders.

The MV difference

  • Expertise in recognising, pursuing, defending and resolving non-medical professional negligence claims.
  • A direct approach to asserting your rights against a negligent professional.
  • An experienced and dedicated team will action your claim swiftly and get matters a previously negligent lawyer was dealing with back on track as soon as possible.
  • A professional team that understands the emotional distress and disappointment that can result from the negligence of a professional you trusted.
  • Access to a panel of highly qualified experts and academics to brief as expert witnesses in your claim.
  • Plain-English advice about your rights with commercial recommendations to resolve the dispute.
  • Frank and fearless advice to you about the strength of your legal position, and the likely outcome of any dispute.
  • Full and open disclosure of all legal costs to ensure a properly informed decision about the next steps is made and there are no unhappy legal costs surprises along the way.


A professional, in providing professional services, is under a duty to exercise reasonable care and skill in the provision of those services. This duty arises from:

  1. A contractual duty, being a term implied in the contract of engagement (also known as a ‘retainer’) between you and the professional; or
  2. A general duty, which is imposed by law due to the nature of the relationship a professional has with their client.

In some circumstances, yes! A retainer between a client and professional can be express (that is, formed in writing or by spoken words) or implied by the conduct of the parties. A retainer will be implied where it is clear from the conduct of the parties that there was an understanding and an intention that a professional/client relationship existed.

The main elements required to prove an implied retainer are:

  1. The professional must accept responsibility to do professional work requiring special skill and knowledge; and
  2. The professional must have known that the other party to the retainer relied on them to apply their expert knowledge and skill in the performance of that work.

In both contract and tort, a professional must execute their duties to the standard expected of a reasonably competent professional that possesses the particular skill or expertise that the professional holds themselves out to have.

If the services provided by the professional fall short of the standard expected of a reasonable competent professional practising in the particular area of expertise, then they may have breached the duty of care owed to you.