Professional Negligence Claims against Immigration Lawyers

The pursuit of a UK immigration application is a journey laden with complex rules and emotions. The stakes are high and individuals seeking to relocate to a new country often rely on the guidance of immigration advisors, be they accredited caseworkers, solicitors, or consultants, to navigate the intricate maze of visa applications, legal requirements, and procedural intricacies.

However, negligence by immigration advisors can cast a long shadow over this path, leaving unsuspecting individuals with significant personal and financial consequences and losses. What might appear to be a minor oversight can have massive implications, transforming individuals into ‘overstayers’, a term laden with legal and criminal implications.

What is the basis for a professional negligence claim against an immigration lawyer?

Professional negligence in immigration matters is a grave concern. It arises when immigration advisors, entrusted with the responsibility of guiding their clients through the intricate immigration process, fail to meet the expected standard of care. Several key elements define the landscape of professional negligence in this context, for example:

Failure to Meet Competence Standards:

Immigration advisors are held to a high standard of competence. Clients expect their advisors to possess the requisite knowledge and expertise to provide accurate, timely, and lawful guidance. Failing to meet these standards can constitute professional negligence.

Suffering a Recognisable Loss:

Central to any professional negligence claim is the recognition of a loss suffered by the client. This loss may take various forms, including financial losses such as loss of earnings, duplicate Home Office fees, travel costs, and expenses incurred by family members. The loss must be directly linked to the negligence of the immigration advisor.

How do I start a professional negligence claim against my immigration solicitor?

In order to commence a professional negligence claim before a Court in England & Wales you must issue a County Court or High Court claim form accompanied with Particulars of Claim setting out the details of the claim including the remedy sought from the errant immigration solicitor or barrister. The issuance of the Claim Form must be done within strict time limits known as limitation periods and the relevant court fee must be paid (which is a percentage of the losses claimed up to a maximum of £10,000). For a step-by-step guide on how to start a professional negligence claim for compensation click here.

What is the time limit for commencing a claim against a immigration adviser?

Time limits and limitation periods are essential to adhere to in litigation. Missing a limitation period is fatal to the chances of success of any claim and will leave a claim statute-barred.

When it comes to ascertaining the limitation date for a particular claim, there are a number of factors to consider. In simple terms, the limitation period is six years from the accrual of the cause of action (section 2, Limitation Act 1980). However, if the six year time limit has passed but you have only just discovered the effect of any latent damage, then the limitation period may be extended to three years from the date of knowledge (section 14A, Limitation Act 1980).

Another complicating factor is that in almost all circumstances, a legal professional will owe a client concurrent duties i.e. a duty in both contract and tort (the contract will be the retainer that you signed at the outset with your immigration solicitor, barrister or adviser). This means it is up to you to choose whether to bring an action in contract, tort or both. The relevance is that although both contract and tort have a limitation period of six years after the relevant cause of action accrues, in contract the cause of action accrues once the relevant contractual term is breached and in tort it accrues once damage has occurred. Therefore, limitation periods for both causes of action vary.

If you have a complaint against an immigration professional, then our advice is that you take independent legal advice as soon as possible.

Common Types of Mistakes Immigrations Professionals Make

Navigating the complexities of immigration law requires precision and diligence. Common mistakes made by immigration advisors can have far-reaching consequences, including:

  • Missed Application Deadlines: Failing to submit visa extension applications by the expiration date can result in immediate ‘overstayer’ status. This simple oversight can lead to loss of employment, immediate departure orders, and months, if not years, of battling to rectify the situation.
  • Incorrect Application of the Law: Incorrectly applying immigration law or advising on inappropriate immigration routes can derail a client’s prospects, leading to visa denials or other complications.
  • Inadequate Document Submission: Neglecting to provide critical supporting evidence can lead to application rejections, further complicating the immigration process.
  • Failure to Advise on Remedies: In cases of refusal, immigration advisors have a duty to advise clients on appropriate remedies, such as administrative review, appeal, or judicial review. Failing to do so can cause significant harm.

Why instruct us to bring your professional negligence claim?

Our dual-qualified Solicitor & Barrister team assess your case at the outset. We will quickly determine the merits and prospects of the claim and then also advise you on how to obtain an optimal settlement (often on a no win no fee basis):

  1. We are a team of both solicitors and barristers at the only law firm within chambers in the Middle Temple (a Barristers’ Inn of Court) in the City of London with years of experience.
  2. We provide results-focused legal representation to individuals and companies that have been subject to bad advice or conduct and can often act on a no win no fee basis after an initial assessment.
  3. Our litigation team are dedicated members of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association (PNLA), with expertise in high value professional negligence disputes and claims.
  4. Our typical cases have a value of several hundred thousand pounds and our largest current case is worth in the region of £7 million and is a complex case against a large well-known London law firm.
  5. We have a specialist team of professional negligence legal experts with years of experience in negotiating with professionals, their indemnity insurers and their solicitors. We regularly represent our clients at mediations with insurers which often lead to settlement

Can I challenge my solicitor’s bill and start professional negligence proceedings?

This is a relatively contentious area. Challenging a bill is commenced in the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO), whereas commencing professional negligence proceedings (if the claim is for more than £100,000) is in the High Court.

One of the Court’s overriding objectives in the Civil Procedural Rules is to save time and expense. The Court generally do not condone claimants commencing parallel proceedings and if costs proceedings are commenced in the SCCO, and the pre-action protocol for professional negligence is ongoing, the SCCO will likely order a stay of the costs proceedings in order to enable the parties to comply with the pre-action protocol for professional negligence. However, this varies depending on the individual facts of a case.

Book an Initial Consultation

If you have a potential claim against a professional get in touch with our specialist immigration professional negligence team so we can assess the legal merits of your case. We often take on such claims on a no win no fee basis once we have advised you on the merits of the proposed professional negligence action.

Our expert legal team of leading Professional Negligence Solicitors & Barristers are available to provide urgent help, advice or representation. Just fill out our case assessment form.

Specialist Professional Negligence Solicitors

We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers operating from the only law firm based in the Middle Temple Inns of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice. Our team have expertise in advising on claims for compensation against immigration professionals that have fallen below the standard expected, which causes clients financial or personal loss. We are experienced in bringing successful claims against all immigration professionals such as SRA regulated solicitors, BSB regulated barristers and OISC regulated immigration advisers.

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