Other professional negligence
A difficulty that is experienced with cases of this nature, as with medical negligence cases, is that of obtaining expert evidence to suggest that the applicant has a reasonable chance of success in establishing negligence.
Any question of obtaining independent expert evidence must be referred to Legal Services for approval. It would be helpful in cases of this kind to have the following information:-
- what expert evidence is likely to be available?
- what act or acts of ‘negligence’ are alleged? and
- when did the applicant first come to believe that his/her loss was due to professional negligence
- and what action, if any, did the applicant take in the meantime?
For professional negligence cases not involving personal injuries the statute of limitations is generally 6 years from the date the negligence occurred. If it is clear that the case presents no prima facie or arguable cause of action there should be no necessity to obtain expert evidence or an opinion from counsel prior to a formal application for legal aid being made.
Legal advice may also be sought in relation to complaints made to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal or to other professional bodies but legal aid is not available for representation before those bodies.
It is considered appropriate to provide general information about the procedures that such bodies apply and an overview of the sort of material that ought to be included in any document being submitted to the body. It is not considered appropriate to assist the person with the drafting of an affidavit or other pleading.