Perhaps you turned to a professional to help you or your business but instead their service was negligent and this meant you lost money. 

Where the losses you’ve suffered due to bad advice come to under £10,000 then our Small Claims Service should be able to help.


Summary of the law - bad advice (known as professional negligence)

Your rights 


If the advice was so bad that it was an error no reasonable advisor might also have made, then you probably may be entitled to compensation:

X      A poor quality service causing you inconvenience in not enough.

X      A mistake or wrong judgement, where a different but reasonable person (with the same qualifications) might, in the same circumstances, have made the same error. This is also not enough. 

X      A wrong judgement that would at the time have been considered correct by other advisors. This is usually not enough for a claim as it is only now, with the benefit of hindsight, that views of reasonable advisors have changed. 


       Wrong advice that is so wrong that no reasonable advisor (with the same qualifications and knowing what was known at the time) would have made the same mistake. This is likely to be negligence – so you can claim. 

       The mistake was one that no reasonable person (of the same trade, industry or profession) would have made it in the same circumstances. This is likely to be negligence – so you can claim. 

       The expert made the error after failing to follow the common standards of practice of their field. This can be the basis of a successful claim for negligence.

Then your compensation will cover your financial loss (or harm) suffered as a direct result plus any reasonable losses and expenses you have suffered.

The area of law is known as professional negligence. 

Did you pay by Credit Card?


What do you have to prove to bring a claim?


1: The advice or mistake was so bad that it fell below the reasonably acceptable standard for the particular trade, industry or profession of the advisor.

2: That you have suffered a financial loss (or other harm such as lost time, lost opportunities or even injury). 

3: That your loss was caused as a direct result of the bad advice (and was not a loss you would have suffered anyway).


What evidence should you collect together?


1: Proof that the other person was providing advice that you would be expected to rely on – perhaps a report or email setting out their advice.

2: Proof the advice was wrong – perhaps a report from someone else in the same profession or industry (of at least the same standing).

3: Proof of the financial loss (or harm) caused to you.


What can you claim?

Financial compensation – to put you in the position you would be in if you had not followed bad advice.

This can be financial losses, lost time and lost opportunities. They can include future losses. It can therefore cover:

      Financial losses you have suffered as a result of the advice or actions of the professional.  

X      Financial losses you would have suffered anyway – these cannot be claimed.
      Missed opportunities - where you can prove you would have taken the opportunity if you had received the correct advice. You then can claim the financial value of your lost opportunity. Examples include:

  • the lost financial value of  an investment 
  • the lost profits of growing a successful business (perhaps it has been set back several years by the negligent advice).

X       Missed opportunities where you cannot prove that it is ‘more likely than not’ that you made this financial loss because of the bad advice or mistake. 

  • Perhaps there is evidence you would not have made the investment anyway (for other reasons – such as not being able to raise the money) you would have taken this opportunity.
  • Perhaps there is evidence that your business would not have been successful or grown even if you had received good advice.
  • Where it is decided you only had (for example) a 60% chance of benefiting from the missed opportunity, then you will only be awarded 60% of the financial loss.

✔      Wasted time and inconvenience – especially if it has made you unwell. But the amount that the court awards is limited.

X      The value of the time you spend in preparing your claim.

 ✔      Repayment of expenses you have had to pay because of the negligence – but these will be limited to what it is felt was reasonable for you to have paid.

X      Losses and expenses that are considered excessive. For example if the negligence meant you lost or cannot use your property then it may be reasonable for you to rent a replacement. However if you rent a very grand alternative property – that is better than the one you lost or cannot use, you will only be able to claim for the cost of equivalent property.

X      Your legal costs and expenses - if your successful claim results in a settlement or award of £10,000 or less. Claims under this amount are treated as a small claim and only very limited legal costs can be recovered.

 ✔      The bulk of your reasonable legal costs and expenses - if your claim is successful and results in a settlement or award to you of over £10,000. There are complex rules covering what legal costs you opponent must pay on top of your compensation – we can advise you so you get back all that you are entitled to.


What is the deadline for starting a claim at court?


Usually 6 years from the date you first suffered loss or harm (3 years if you suffered a physical injury).

But this can get very complicated if you did not realise there had been bad advice or a mistake when you first suffered a loss. You might be entitled to a 3 year extension but it is important to take advice as soon as possible. 


Example claims

  • Accountants – wrong tax advice or missed fraud
  • Architects – design errors & extra building costs
  • Barristers – a key witness not being asked questions
  • Dentists – failure to look after your teeth
  • Doctors and other medical practitioners – mistakes in your treatment
  • Engineers – design faults
  • Estate Agents – not getting the right price for your property
  • Financial Advisors, Banks and Insurance Brokers – wrong financial advice
  • Insurance brokers – leaving you unprotected
  • Property Letting Agents – losses due to not checking references
  • Solicitors and other lawyers – missed deadlines or not getting you the right compensation.
  • Surveyors - missed property defects
  • Vets (veterinary surgeons) – mistakes in your pet’s treatment
  • Will writers – mistakes so the will is not valid or leaves someone out



Disclaimer reminder


Please note: To give you general information about your dispute, the information given here is a simplification of a complex area of law and cannot be relied upon. Before taking action please use our Small Claims service to get specialist legal advice on your specific circumstances. See the full terms and conditions of this website


Format - complaint letter



Information to include

Sample letter – bad advice


Start of official letter to other side.

[If you know the person’s name]: Dear Mr Smith, 

[If you do not know their name]: Dear Sirs,



Any relevant background information:

What was agreed between you?

What happened (in date order)? 

Be specific and refer to any written or verbal agreements.  


You agreed to act for me as my surveyor. We have a written contract dated 30 March 2013.

On 23 April 2013 you advised me that the house I was thinking of buying at 14 Folly Avenue, Bristol had a roof that was in good condition

This advice was given in your written report dated 23 April 2013.




Details of any payments requested and any payments made.

You sent me a bill for £1,000 on 1 May 2013.

I paid this in full on 15 May 2013.



Identify clearly why you are unhappy. 

Be clear about why you think the other person is responsible. ​


I consider this advice was negligent because I have since discovered the roof beams were rotten and the roof needed a complete replacement.

To back this up I attach:

  • a set of photographs
  • 3 roofing quotations all setting out that the work was needed due to the poor condition of the roof

Problems caused

Give details of any problems you have suffered as a result.

Problems caused

As a result of your advice I relied on your report and bought the property.

If you had correctly identified the problem I would have either negotiated a deduction in the price I paid to cover the £7,000 of repair works or I would have insisted on the seller completing the works before I bought.


Losses and expenses 

If the problems have caused you losses or expenses - give details.

Also provide proof of the damage and cost of repairs or replacement wherever possible.

Losses and expenses

I value the losses I suffered  that were caused by your bad advice to be as follows:

  • £1,000 repayment of your bill
  • £7,000 being the cost of the repair work being the cheapest of the 3 quotes attached.
  • £150 replacement mattress for my bed needed due to water damage. Photo attached and screenshot from Beds Limited website price list.
  • £300 redecorating – see photos of water damage and quote from Paint Job Limited.




Be as clear as possible about the remedy you would like. 

  • Say what action you would like them to take (or stop). 
  • Where you seek money - put a price on the settlement you seek


Please repay me my losses and expenses set out in this letter. They total £8,450.

Please send me a cheque made payable to Mr Ian Rate to my home address.



Give your opponent 14 days to reply to the letter – to:

  • agree with your complaint and give you the remedy that you seek 


  • arrange to inspect the problem


  • set out their detailed response.



Please do not ignore this letter. I would like us to try to resolve our dispute without court proceedings and legal costs.

Please reply in the next 14 days, so that this dispute can be resolved as set out in this letter. 

Arrangements: I am happy to agree a time with you to inspect the problems at my home. Please telephone me to discuss the arrangements for inspection and repair within the next 14 days. The best daytime number to use is my mobile of 0799 043 732.

If you do not agree that you are liable and/or do not agree with the remedy sought, then please reply within 14 days with a detailed explanation of why not.



Point out that ignoring your letter will mean you may start legal proceedings for the court to deal with the dispute and that you may refer the judge to your letter.


I am sure it will not prove necessary but if I do not hear from you within 14 days then I reserve the right to start court proceedings without further reference to you. I will ask the court for an order that you pay me £8,450.

If I do have to issue court proceedings, I will refer the court to this letter and I will also ask the court to order you to pay me interest, court fees and legal costs.

I look forward to hearing from you within the next 14 days.



[If you started with their name]:
Yours sincerely, 
Ian Rate

[If you started using Dear Sirs]:
Yours faithfully, 
Ian Rate