In this age of specialists, many lawyers refer clients and potential clients to other lawyers more experienced in a given area of law. Similarly, professionals in different fields refer to other professionals. Indeed, the referral process is a productive source of new business. However, under recent case law, referring without exercising due diligence may be actionable.
Recently, New York's Appellate Divisions in the First, Second and Third departments, and a number of other state courts, implicitly recognized negligent recommendation/referral as a potential cause of action. While New York does not yet expressly recognize "negligent referral" or "negligent recommendation" as a cause of action, such a claim may be supported by applying the tort of negligent misrepresentation. A claim for negligent recommendation/referral may also be supported by the scope of duty voluntarily taken as part of a professional's responsibility under the rules governing professional ethics, conduct and responsibility.
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