As a specialist dental negligence solicitor I am often asked by friends and relatives about potential dental claims and the law.
In fact, one of the first topics of conversation when I meet somebody normally goes something like this:
"Q:What do you do then?
A:I am specialist dental negligence solicitor....
Q:A what?....I bet your dentist loves you and you must get Rolls Royce treatment....Hang on...about 2 years ago, I went to the dentist with a pain in my tooth and ......"
You get the idea!.
Now, I read with dismay this week in the Law Society Gazette (27.03.2017) that the Court of Appeal is about to give a judgement on a claim worth £256,000 by a London couple suing their neighbour (who were in fact previously good friends) for allegedly negligent advice on a garden project. The gist of the claim is that an architect had given free advice to his friend and neighbour on a garden landscape project that he wanted to do.
The Gazette seeks to allay fears stating that dispute resolution lawyers have stressed that Solicitors should near fear the implications of a case in which an architect gave free advice to his friend - but should still exercise caution.
Alarm bells have gone off within the profession as Solicitors still potentially owe a duty of care to deliver a professional service, even if this is free advice to a friend. The High Court Judge HH Judge Nissen QC called the case a "cautionary tale" and pointed out that just because there is no contract was not a protection from liabililty.
It is only one small step from architect to solicitor.
The outcome of this case may make solicitors think twice before giving free legal advice especially on a complex area like dental negligence claims.