Vancouver Lawyers Advising on Professional Negligence Claims

When a client hires a professional to provide a service based on their qualifications or expertise, the client has reasonable expectations that the job will be completed competently. If the service or resulting product is not up to par as promised, the client may have a claim against the service provider based on professional negligence.

The lawyers of Meridian Law Group are a seasoned team of litigators who collectively have decades of experience providing top-tier representation to clients who have suffered losses caused by professional negligence.

What Is Professional Negligence?

Professional negligence occurs when a professional fails to fulfil their professional duties or obligations to their client. The scope of those responsibilities will vary by the type of professional, as well as the standards and laws that govern that professional’s conduct.

When a client hires a professional to provide a service, they have an expectation that the professional will be able to perform that service with reasonable care and to the applicable standard.

Some examples of professionals who may be defendants in a professional negligence claim include:

  • Lawyers;
  • Accountants;
  • Immigration advisors;
  • Employment recruiters;
  • Engineers;
  • Architects;
  • Insurance brokers;
  • Real estate agents; and
  • Financial advisors.

What Is Required for a Claim Based on Professional Negligence?

There are three legal elements to be satisfied for a professional to be found liable in a professional negligence claim:

  1. A duty of care must exist between the parties (the professional/defendant and client/plaintiff);
  2. The professional must have breached their duty of care; and
  3. The client must have suffered a loss or injury due to the professional’s failure to meet their duty of care.

It can be challenging to ascertain whether these legal elements have been met in any particular case. As a result, it is always recommended to consult a lawyer with experience in professional negligence claims to protect your rights and potential entitlement to compensation.

The Standard of Professional Expertise & Skill

Many professionals are presumed to have a level of expertise based on their education, accreditation, or the legal or ethical standards applied to their services. However, aside from these criteria, a higher standard is generally applied to individuals who represent themselves as having special skills or knowledge that allow them to perform tasks beyond an ordinary person’s capacity. For example, an immigration consultant or wealth planner will hold themselves out as having expertise in their field over and above a layperson or administrative worker.

Examples of Professional Negligence

A professional may breach their legal duties and obligations owed to a client in numerous ways. The types of duties or obligations owed vary from profession to profession, and a professional negligence claim can depend on the circumstances surrounding the service provided by the professional.

Some common examples of professional negligence include (but are not limited to):

  • Missing a deadline (e.g. a limitation period, court deadline, filing deadline, closing date);
  • Erroneous or improperly-prepared paperwork (e.g. real estate documents, court pleadings, legal contracts); and
  • The professional failed to follow the client’s instructions.

Mistakes, Oversights & Professional Negligence

Not every mistake, oversight, error, or other breach of a duty of care will qualify as professional negligence. A professional negligence claim is unlikely to succeed if the professional realizes their error and takes steps to resolve the issue before any loss is suffered.

The negligence must have caused loss or damage to establish a professional negligence claim. For example, an accountant may fail to advise a client of a tax filing deadline, resulting in a fine by the Canada Revenue Agency. Alternatively, an immigration consultant may submit the wrong paperwork on the client’s behalf, causing the client to lose their work visa and job (and therefore their income).

Determining Whether a Professional’s Advice Was Reasonable

Professional negligence claims can be complicated to assess in situations where a professional believes the advice provided to their client was reasonable, but the situation did not work out as hoped, and the client suffered a loss as a result. The court will not review the advice given solely with the benefit of hindsight; instead, it will determine how reasonable the advice was when it was provided, considering all circumstances of the case.

By way of example, the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly tainted many otherwise promising business opportunities. A professional advising a client to open a bar or restaurant in early 2020 would not likely be expected to have anticipated the impact of a global pandemic. As a result, their advice may have been reasonable at the time it was given, as the effects of COVID-19 were not yet foreseeable.

Meridian Law Group: Providing High Calibre Advocacy to Clients in Professional Negligence Claims Across B.C.

The ambitious professional negligence lawyers at Meridian Law Group have developed a reputation for exceptional client service for over 30 years. By using their leading advocacy and negotiation skills, the litigators of Meridian Law Group secure the most advantageous outcome for clients who have suffered significant loss and stress as a result of a professional’s negligent service provision or advice.

Conveniently located across from the Law Courts in downtown Vancouver, Meridian Law Group proudly serves clients throughout British Columbia, including West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Penticton, Kelowna, Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, and White Rock. The firm also represents clients across Canada and internationally. To schedule a consultation, please reach out online or call 604-687-2277.