The number of negligence claims being brought against law firms has risen dramatically over the past few years. This trend is likely to continue as the effects  Government cuts to legal aid, recent massive rises in court fees and increasing limitations on the recovery of legal costs bite further. These increasing financial pressures mean that all firms are having to find ways to work more efficiently to stay in business. Unfortunately this can also give rise to mistakes which impact upon the consumer.

 

One area which has recently come under the spotlight is the online “Portal” system for Road Traffic Accident claims which came into use in July 2013. Claims are submitted electronically and where liability is admitted the parties can make offers and counter offers to settle the claims. The idea behind it is that the process is more streamlined, more certain and claims get resolved much more quickly. Solicitors receive fixed fees for each successful case so it is common for them to do the work quickly and in bulk to maximise their fee income. Many firms employ inexperienced staff as a further means of keeping down costs and maximising their profits.

 

In the recent case of Draper v Newport the Claimant’s solicitor was pursuing a personal injury claim for him through the Portal. Liability was admitted and the Defendant made an initial offer of settlement. However, the offer was too low so the Claimant instructed his solicitor to reject it. Unfortunately the solicitor clicked “accept” instead of “reject” and although the mistake was spotted immediately and notified to the Defendant, they refused to accept that the offer had been rejected. Court proceedings ensued and the Court found that the Claimant was stuck with the settlement despite the apparently genuine mistake. The Claimant therefore lost the opportunity to make a higher counter offer and potentially achieve a higher settlement of his claim.

 

It is worth noting that the mistake in this case was spotted early and the solicitor did make an effort to rectify it. However, the reality is that a mistake was made and the Claimant lost out as a result. We can of course help if you lose out as a result of mistakes made by your solicitors, so get in touch and speak to one of our team.