Accusations of professional negligence can be extremely damaging for businesses, both large and small. The idea being that when you provide expert services or advice you create an agreement with your client, that includes responsibility and a duty of care. If the client feels as if the provider has broken this agreement, there could be consequences. Any claim of negligence that is investigated and proven could lead to a loss of money and reputational damage.
Unfortunately, not all cases of negligence are clear cut, after all mistakes can be made. It’s unlikely that the majority of affected businesses are purposely negligent. It’s much more likely to be a case of human error or a breakdown in communication. However, it’s important for business owners to remain vigilant. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can guard against accusations of professional negligence.
Record, Record, Record
Should you face an accusation of professional negligence, one of the best ways to counter is with information. This means keeping thorough, accurate records on every aspect of your professional work. This could include correspondences, appointments and contracts- with an emphasis on interactions between you and the client. This type of documentation can help to create a strong defence in the case of a legal proceeding.
Stay in Your Zone
The majority of professionals will specialise in one specific area. They will then offer expert advice and services based on this speciality. One way in which you increase the risk of potential negligence is by working outside of your field. It’s easy to understand how this happens, particularly for those who have a long-term relationship with their clients. It’s can also be tempting to encourage more work, however it can open you up to a host of issues.
If a client asks for advice or services in an area in which you aren’t proficient, refer them to someone else.
An important aspect of business is the ability to sell yourself. Whilst there is nothing wrong with promoting your services, try not to oversell. When working with a client, it can be easy to make grand promises that will then become difficult to deliver on. The problem with this is that the client will then feel short-changed, which could lead to accusations of negligence. Remain upbeat, positive and enthusiastic but try to stay realistic and never promise something that you know you won’t be able to deliver.
As with many aspects of business, communication is key. When working with a client, regular check-ins can help to quash problems before they grow. Whereas, a failure to keep in contact with your client can lead to misconception, frustration and potentially even resentment. Regular communication will also foster a better relationship between you and your customers. A better working relationship is less likely to lead to official grievances such as accusations of professional negligence. Whether it’s emails, text messaging or even a friendly phone call, keeping in touch benefits both parties.
Apart from adopting a more cautious approach to your work, there are more formal protections available- for example, insurance. Professional indemnity insurance protects against a number of potential claims from clients, including poor advice, mistakes and overall negligence. Should the worst happen and your business is affected by a negligence claim, this insurance can help with financial and reputational damage.
For those professionals who are already facing potential legal action, look no further than Taxation Investigation. They are experienced professionals who can offer a wide range of financial solutions- including forensic accountancy and litigation support for those facing accusations of professional negligence.