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The role of barristers in negligence court cases

A lawsuit for professional negligence is usually brought against a professional (e.g. an accountant or a doctor) by a client or patient. There are several elements which must be proved in court for a claim to be successful. These elements differ depending on whether the claim is brought in tort law (between parties with no relevant contractual relationship) or in contract law (where one party was obligated to provide a service under a contract), but in both negligence must be proven, a loss must be shown and a link between the loss and the negligent act must be established.

One of the most difficult and complex aspects of bringing a successful claim for professional negligence barristers face is actually proving the negligence. Barristers acting for the defence almost always have the option of arguing that although the result of the defendant’s actions were not to as one would expect, they should not be considered by the law to be negligence. Barristers for the claimant must establish the standard to which the defendant is held and illustrate that the defendant falls below that standard. This standard is often defined as the opinion of a reasonable professional that shares some of the characteristics of the defendant. Such an opinion is sometimes nearly impossible to attain, as, for example, some areas of medicine would only have a handful of experts, and they might know each other which makes relying on their opinions slightly problematic.

If you are thinking of bringing a claim for professional negligence, barristers who specialise in the field (if instructed by your solicitors) can add a great deal of professional knowledge and expertise. 

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