Call me back

Your guide to barrister negligence


While the vast majority of barristers provide a very high standard of service to their clients, there are occasions where barristers make mistakes. An incorrectly drafted court document, negligent advice given to the client, or the failure to provide adequate representation can lead to catastrophic outcomes for the client.

In these instances, there could be grounds for the client to sue their barrister for professional negligence.

What is professional negligence?

According to English law, professional negligence is when a professional fails to perform his or her responsibilities to the standard expected of them. In order to bring a professional negligence claim, claimants need to prove the following things:

  • That they were owed a duty of care by the professional
  • That the professional breached that duty of care
  • That this breach caused a financial loss to the claimant

At Your Legal Friend, we know that the prospect of taking a legal professional to court may seem daunting. Our expert team of highly experienced professional negligence solicitors will make the process as stress-free as possible and will fight to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

The difference between solicitors and barristers

Some clients are unsure of the difference between solicitors and barristers, and wonder who may be at fault in their case. The difference between the two professions is:

  • Solicitors mainly carry out legal work outside of the courtroom, liaising with the client and instructing the barrister.
  • Barristers are the in-court advocates (recognisable by their wig and gown). They argue cases before judges and juries, and generally don’t come into contact with the public as much as solicitors do.

Of course, there are exceptions in some cases, where a professional may be both a solicitor and barrister. Both professions can be sued under a professional negligence claim.

Professional negligence claims against barristers

It used to be that barristers were protected from professional negligence claims – but since a landmark decision in 2000, claims against barristers are allowed if they provide negligent advice. Clients may be able to make a claim if:

  • They believe they have been given incorrect legal advice by a barrister in an opinion or a client conference.
  • They believe they have been inadequately represented in court because a barrister was negligent, or because of incorrectly drafted court documents.
  • They believe they have been poorly represented by a barrister in mediation.
  • They received a barrister’s opinion late, resulting in a financial loss to the client.

You can make a claim against a barrister for either contentious or non-contentious work. Contentious work may include advice in a clinical negligence claim or an action against the police, while non-contentious work includes issues such as tax advice, probate and conveyancing.

The consequences of barrister negligence

When barristers are negligent, the outcome can be incredibly damaging for the client. For example, a barrister in a civil case may offer their client incorrect legal advice which could cause them a financial loss. This can be very stressful and could lead to further problems for the client. Bringing a case against this barrister could ensure that the client not only recovers their losses but is also compensated for the stress they were put through.

Barristers fighting criminal cases can also have negligence claims brought against them, though this usually means an appeal against a conviction rather than a compensation award.

Making a claim against a barrister

If you’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of negligent advice or inadequate representation by your barrister, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Our expert professional negligence solicitors will help you determine whether the errors made by your barrister were negligent, as well as considering how best to pursue your claim and recover the compensation you deserve.

So that we can represent you effectively, we’ll need to know the following things:

  • Who was your barrister?
  • What was your barrister instructed to do?
  • Why do you think the barrister was negligent?
  • What is the value of the loss you’ve suffered as a result?

Once you’ve supplied us with these details, we can start investigating the case and advising you on your next steps. Most barristers have professional indemnity insurance which will ensure you recover the full amount from them when you win your case.

If we find that the barrister’s services didn’t amount to negligence, we could still help you to bring a complaint out of court. The Bar Standards Board is a strand of the regulator body for barristers, and if there’s sufficient evidence, they can conduct an investigation into your barrister. This could result in a written warning, a fine or even a tribunal for the barrister – but the Bar Standards Board can refuse to investigate if there’s already a professional negligence case in progress.

You can report a barrister to the Bar Standards Board if your barrister:

  • Misled the court during your case.
  • Breached confidentiality.
  • Acted dishonestly.
  • Discriminated against you because of your gender, race, disability, religious belief, sexual orientation, marital status or age.

Time limitations

  • Professional negligence claims must be brought within six years of the day on which the negligent act occurred. If you haven’t brought a claim by this deadline, you will be unable to do so.
  • Sometimes, claimants aren’t actually aware of the negligence when it first occurs, and so the first rule would be unfair to these people. In this instance, the claimant would have three years from the date of discovering the negligence to bring their claim to court.

How Your Legal Friend can help

We know that the prospect of taking a barrister to court can be daunting. But our experienced team of professional negligence solicitors has the skills and experience to ensure your barrister is held to account.  We’ll act quickly and provide you with sympathetic, practical, jargon-free advice to help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Throughout your claim, Your Legal Friend will help you every step of the way

  • Specialist team of professional negligence solicitors
  • A wealth of knowledge and expertise
  • Advice, support and guidance throughout your claim
  • Over 30 years’ experience in personal injury compensation