Cause and effect - establishing the true cause of damage in professional negligence claims


In professional negligence claims, proving that the professional was negligent is only half the battle. In this article, Michael Axe looks at how it is not always a straightforward matter to prove that the negligence was the actual cause of the losses suffered.

Many potential claimants assume that if they hire a professional (such as an accountant, surveyor, auditor, architect, lawyer or similar), and that professional then carries out their work negligently, then they will be able to pursue a claim against the professional. However, the English Courts have confirmed on many occasions that it is not enough to simple show that the professional was negligent – you must also show that the negligence was the real cause of any loss or damage which you are seeking to claim.

In this article we look at two recent decisions from the Court of Appeal and High Court have provided some further guidance on how the English Courts will assess whether the professional's negligence was the cause of the damage in question. Whilst both these cases relate to professional negligence claims against solicitors, the principles involved are equally applicable to negligence claims involving any professionals.

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