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Can you trust your friends?

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Being a professional person can certainly have its ups and downs.

It is often the case when family members or friends who require professional advice will contact their mate or their relative who happens to be an expert in the field they need assistance with. I suspect rather more often than not the expert which is approached gives some sort of informal advice or points them in the right direction without any intention of creating any contract or legal relations between them. What happens if the informal advice you gave was incorrect or something happens which adversely effects your friend’s situation?

Professionals must always tread carefully. This situation arose in a recent case involving an architect where the Technology & Construction Court had to consider whether informal advice on the initial stages of a project constituted a contract; and/or, irrespective of a contract did the architect owe a duty of care to the person seeking such advice. 

The Judge in Burgess v Lejonvarn [2016] EWHC 40 (TCC) decided that in the absence of any clear contractual terms which were exchanged between the parties and any acceptance upon them then it would be difficult to find a contract was in place. There were no discussions about remuneration or the duration of such services and no provision for termination, terms which were the type typically included in professional’s terms of engagement. However, the Judge did say that the architect did owe a duty of care to the claimants to exercise reasonable care and skill in her capacity as an architect. This could mean that subject to arguments on causation and loss there may be a liability in negligence against the professional.

If you feel you have been affected by professional negligence from a professional you should not hesitate to contact our dispute resolution team. We have a dedicated team which specialises in professional negligence claims and can offer a range of fixed fees and other methods of funding. You can contact a member of our team on 01616 966 229.