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Frequently Asked Questions

Providing professional legal services nationwide for over 25 years.

Professional Negligence FAQs

What is Professional Negligence?

Professionals are those who represent themselves as having more than average skills and ability. A professional is negligent when he or she fails to perform their responsibilities to the required standard, which causes you, the client, to suffer loss.

Examples of this include a solicitor undervaluing your personal injury claim or missing a court date resulting in your claim being struck out by the Court, or a surveyor failing to spot structural faults in a building that resulted in subsidence.

Who will deal with my claim?

All professional negligence claims taken on by Specters are dealt with by an experienced lawyer with particular knowledge of this area of law.

We have both male and female specialists in this area and you can see them on the first interview for a 30 minute free consultation with no obligation.

If I make a claim and it is unsuccessful who will pay?

If we take your claim on because we consider it has reasonable prospects of success, we are able to offer you a No Win No Fee arrangement.

This means that if we do not win your case you will pay us nothing, and if we succeed you will pay a success fee up to a maximum figure that we will agree with you before we take on your case.

We fund many of our Professional Negligence cases this way.

How long do I have to claim?

The limitation period, which is the period of time for which a claim can be made, is six years for professional negligence claims.

However, this period may be extended if your date of knowledge was later, in which case the limitation period will run for three years from the date of your knowledge of the negligence; there is an overall longstop date of 15 years, which cannot be extended.

It is important that you deal with claims swiftly in any event as the documentation or other evidence supporting your case may diminish over time or witnesses may turn out to be unavailable.

If you are not sure if your claim is time barred contact us and we will clarify the position for you.

What is the process for claiming for Professional Negligence and how long does the process take?

The Pre-Action Protocol applies to Professional Negligence claims. This is a procedure that requires you (the claimant) to outline their case and the defendants to given some time to respond. This time period is usually three months to allow for investigation of the claim and to allow a response to the initial Letter of Claim that we would send on your behalf.

If after the relevant period the defendants are not prepared to make an offer you are then entitled to issue court proceedings.

If both parties agree then a half way house known as mediation is used. This is where a Mediator (who is often a professional lawyer) is appointed and both parties attend a meeting and put forward their case informally. The Mediatory will review each case and try to find a common ground and solution acceptable to both parties.

This prevents delay in the resolution of the matter as court proceedings take some time, but a mediation can only happen if both parties agree and, whilst it is encouraged by the courts, it is not mandatory.

If I believe I have suffered loss because of the actions of a professional whom can I sue?

This will depend on the particular circumstances of your case. In a building dispute for instance, it may be your architect, surveyor or builder who has provided advice or services that fell below the standard of work required of that profession.

In a legal context it may be a solicitor or barrister involved in the case that has failed to advise you properly.

Claims can also arise against IFA’s insurance brokers, IT professionals, eningeers and many other categories of professionals whose actions may give rise to a claim.

We will review your claim and advise you of the appropriate person or people you should pursue.

Will I have to go to court?

There is a prospect that you will have to go to court to prove your case. Statistics show that this is a rare occurence as most cases settle before trial, as parties consider the costs and risks associated with litigation.

There is also a prospect of mediation or a later meeting between the parties to see if settlement terms can be reached after evidence has been exchanged but there is a prospect you will have to go to court so you must be prepared for this eventuality when embarking on litigation.

What evidence will I need to prove my case?

We will need to prove on your behalf that the professional owed you a duty of care, that the duty was breached adn that because of that breach all or part of your losses arose.

You will need to show that the standard of work produced by the professional fell below the standard normally required by their profession. The test applied is an objective one but each case turns on its own facts.

In practical terms, it is improtant that you keep all the documentation, recordings, data and records which prove your case. It is also important to write down a chronology of event before you see us, along with details of any witnesses who may assist your case.

The onus is on you as the claimant to prove the case you bring.

Conveyancing FAQs

What will it cost me for you to act in my property transaction?

If you call or email us, or send an enquiry using our contact form, we will provide a clear written quote on the same day. The quote will include our costs, VAT and anything we have to pay on your behalf such as search fees and land registry fees.

Once we have given you the quote in writing it will not change unelss we agree to change it with you because the nature of the transaction changes. Details of the way our charges are calculated can be found here. We are also able to provide an initial quote with no obligation.

Will you act for our lender?

If we can, yes. We are on a number of lender panels and if we’re on the panel of the lender you are using we will be able to act for both of you and keep the cost down. When requesting a quote, please confirm if you are taking a mortgage on the property and who with, and we will include acting for your lender in the quote if possible.

What happens if I stop the sale or purchase of the property?

For an abortive sale or purchase, we limit our costs to £250 plus VAT.

What is the CQS?

The Conveyancing Quality Scheme is the quality standard set by The Law Society and confirms that we are approved by them to act in conveyancing transactions.

The CQS standards ensure that we will always treat you fairly, and that if a conflict arises we will tell you immediately. We will also inform you on how to make a complaint if any aspect of our service causes you concern.

Is there a discount for first time buyers?

Yes, we offer first time buyers a 10% discount on our rates.

Who will represent me?

You will be represented by a qualified solicitor or a legal executive who is experienced and has undergone continuous training to keep them up to date in this area of law.

How will you communicate with me throughout the conveyancing process?

We will communicate with you using your preferred method, whether that be email, text message, letter, phone call or fax. Please confirm your preference when instructing us to act for you.

In any event, we will always keep you informed of all key stages, including: Contract prepared or received; Searches obtained; Contract ready for signature; Contracts exchanged; Transfer ready and completion date fixed; Transaction completed.

How long will my property transaction take?

With willing parties on both sides the transaction will normally take 4-6 weeks. If the transaction is urgent we shall use our best efforts to speed up the process.

Divorce FAQs

What are the grounds for divorce?

To get a divorce, you must be able to demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. You must be able to prove the following:

  • Your spouse has acted unreasonably;
  • Your spouse has committed adultery;
  • Your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of two years;
  • You and your spouse have been separated for at least two years and you are both in agreement to the divorce proceedings;
  • You and your spouse have been separated for at least five years.

How long does the divorce procedure take?

A standard divorce can take between 6-8 months, provided that it is not contested. If a divorce is contested then this timescale will be longer and it will depend on when outstanding issues are resolved.

Do I have to attend court?

If matters are uncontested, and you have already agreed with your former partner your divorce and financial arrangements, there will be no requirement for you to attend court. Your divorce will be processed based on your paperwork. If you not agreed on part or all of your financial arrangements, you will be obliged to attend Court.

Unmarried Couples/Cohabitating Couples FAQs

If we separate, am I entitled to anything?

The law gives no automatic rights to unmarried partners in this circumstance. However, in certain circumstances, you may have a claim. This includes:

If you have made financial contributions to the purchase of the home;
If you have provided money for the improvements to the home;
If you have children with your former partner.
It is recommended that you speak with one of our specialist solicitors who can guide you through the process.

My partner will not leave our shared property, what can I do?

This will depend on who owns or rents the property. There are other factors that re relevant such as children and their welfare, as well domestic abuse. There are many factors that help determine whether either of you has a right to stay in the home.

If is recommended that you seek specialist legal advice where neither of you are willing to leave the property.

In the event of domestic abuse you should contact us immediately and we can look to obtain an injunction for you or your children.

My partner has left and has stopped paying the bills, what can I do?

If the bills are in your name or in joint names, you will be still responsible for paying the bills. It is very difficult to recover contributions by your former partner in the future if they have left the property.

If you do not pay, the utility company will pursue either or both of you for the outstanding amount.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement? Do I need one?

A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract that an unmarried couple can enter into. This contract regulates the couples finances and arrangements for living together. It may seem unromantic, but it will save a lot of problems later on should you separate.

Finance & Divorce FAQs

My spouse and I have decided to divorce. How do we sort out our finances?

Both you and your spouse will have financial claims against the other. The starting point will be the equal division of everything you both own including capital and income. Various other factors will then be taken into consideration to decide is an equal division of assets is a fair division based upon your circumstances. This includes:

  • Needs of your children
  • Income, earning capacity, property and other finance financial resources of each party
  • The age of each party
  • Any physical or mental disability to either party to the marriage
  • Contributions each party has made to the family or family home
  • The financial needs and obligations of each party
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family prior to the breakdown of marriage
  • The conduct of each party

My spouse and I have separated for a while and I do not know what their financial position currently is. How can I find this out and how will the court decide what a fair settlement is?

Both parties to the divorce have a duty to give the other full and frank financial disclosure using a financial form, ‘Form E’. The court will direct you both to complete and exchange a Form E which will include each party’s:

  • Assets including property
  • Savings
  • Income
  • Investments
  • Pensions
  • Bank accounts
  • Liabilities

Both parties will be obliged to provide supporting evidence to the other so that you have a clear picture of the other’s financial position.

My spouse and I have already reached an agreement about how we will divide our finances. Do we still need to make an application to the court?

It is advisable that you both seek independent legal advice upon making any agreements with your spouse.

You can set out any agreements you have made in a consent order and file this with the court. Both parties must sign this for the consideration of the judge. You will also need to complete a basic financial statement of information for the court’s consideration. The Judge will usually approve the consent order by sealing it. One an order is sealed by the court, it will be legally binding on the both of you. It will usually become effective from the final decrees of divorce is granted.

If you do not have your agreement sealed by the Court and approved by a Judge, your agreement will not be binding. Your financial claims against each other will continue in the future even after divorce.

What is a clean break?

A clean break order is an order which allows you to break all financial ties with your spouse. Once a clean break order has been made, all financial claims in the future are dismissed and neither spouse can make a claim for money or assets. This enables both parties to the divorce to move forward and be financially independent of one another.

Even if you do not have any assets at the time of your divorce, it is still vital to get a clean break. Your spouse’s ability to make a financial claim will continue to exist even after you have a divorce. In certain circumstances, a clean break may not be appropriate especially if there are children involved.

If a clean break is appropriate, you must make an application to the court and have the order sealed. Without this order, there is always a possibility that you could be faced with a financial claim in the future.

Children in Family & Divorce Matters FAQs

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility means the legal rights, powers duties and responsibilities that a parent has for a child and the child’s property. A person with parental responsibility has the legal rights to about the child’s upbringing such as:

  • The child’s name
  • Where a chid lives
  • Whether the child has certain medical treatments
  • The child’s religion
  • How and where a the child is educated

These decisions must be agreed with anyone else who has parental responsibility.

Who has parental responsibility?

The following people have automatic parental responsibility:

  • All birth mothers;
  • Fathers married to mothers at the time the child is born
  • Fathers who are not married to the birth mother, but are registered on the birth certificate
  • Partners of the mother who are registered as the legal parent on the child’s birth certificate

What happens if we cannot agree about our children?

If you are unable to agree arrangements for your children with the other parent, it is vital that you seek legal assistance.

It is vital in the first instance to attend mediation to attempt to resolve your differences. Mediation is a process where both parents discuss issues in dispute with the assistance of a mediator in an attempt to reach an agreement without going to court. If you are still not able to reach an agreement, it may necessary to make an application to the court.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A child arrangements order is an order setting out the following:

Who the children will live with and when
Who the children will spend time with, or have contact with and when
The Court may order that a child lives with one parent or both parents and specify when the child lives with each parent.

If the child lives with one parent, the Court may order when the child is to have contact with the other parent. Decisions over contact can be made by a judge and the following arrangements can be made:

Direct contact-this is face to face contact with the child
Indirect contact- letters, cards and gifts
Supervised contact- This is contact which is supervised by a suitable third party or at a contact centre
The Court can also add conditions and directions to a child arrangements order. This includes not taking a child to a specific place or taking certain parenting courses.

If a parent fails to comply with a child arrangements order, the court can take enforcement action against them, and in very exceptional circumstances, can imprison a parent for failing to comply with the order. If you believe that you have a good reason for not complying with a child arrangements order, you may apply to the court to have the order varied.

What is a Specific Issues Order?

A specific issues order is an order the court can make when two parents cannot agree about an important decision in the child’s upbringing. This includes:

  • The child’s name or surname
  • The child’s religion
  • The child’s education including which school the child attends
  • The child’s health

The Courts are not likely to be involved in less important decisions about the way you bring up your child.

My partner has threatened to kidnap my child. What can I do?

It is advisable that you obtain a prohibited steps order as soon as possible. A prohibited steps order is a court order which forbids a parent from taking a certain action in relation to the child. This includes:

  • Removing your child from your care;
  • Taking the child abroad
  • Removing your child from school
  • Bringing your child into contact with certain people
  • Changing the child’s surname

The Court has the powers to make these orders without the other parent being present in the case of an emergency.

Serious & Personal Injury FAQs

How long do I have to make a claim?

As a general rule, you should make your claim within 3 years of the date of the accident. If you only became aware that you had suffered injury at a later date, then you may have 3 years from that date.

If you have had an accident abroad, in an airport, or on a plane or boat, then the time period may be different.

Limitation is never a straightforward issue and these rules are the subject of much debate. You should therefore not delay in contacting us.

Am I entitled to make a claim?

In order to make a successful personal injury claim you must be able to prove that you suffered an injury as a result of someone else either doing something they should not have done, or not doing something they should have done. This can often be complicated and our team will be able to fully advise you.

What can I claim for?

You are entitled to claim compensation for the physical and mental injuries that you have suffered. You can also claim for losses and expenses incurred as a result of your injury, such as:

  • Loss of Earnings
  • Treatment and Medication
  • Care and assistance
  • Damaged Property
  • Loss of Pension
  • Vehicle Repairs
  • Car hire

How much compensation will I be entitled to?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors, including the nature of your injuries and the expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident.

How much of my time will my claim take?

Personal injury cases can range from very straightforward to extremely complex. If your claim is simple, then it may be resolved in 6 months to a year.

More complicated claims with more serious injuries may take longer, usually because you will have to wait for your injuries to either fully recover or stabilise before you know what damages you are entitled to.

If the accident has caused you financial difficulties, the Defendant may agree to make a part payment of your damages, or provide care and treatment, while the claim is ongoing.

How much input will I have?

Ultimately, this is your case and that means that we will keep you informed at all times and you will be involved in all the material decisions

Will I have to go to Court?

Only a very small percentage of cases ever go to trial. The vast majority of cases settle out of court through negotiation and mediation.

What types of accidents do you cover?

We specialise in providing advice concerning a broad range of accidents which can happen abroad including those that happen at work, on the road, or aboard a ship, as well as holiday activities and sporting events.

Would my claim be different if I was outside of the EU?

Different countries have their own laws procedure and assessment upon value of claims. We will always do our best to provide advice in connection with accidents happening outside of the UK and the EU.

Can I claim for lost earnings?

Yes – Where a client suffers lost earnings because of someone else’s negligent actions we will seek an early interim payment where liability is admitted.

How much is my claim worth?

Yes – if the loss of earnings was reasonably caused by someone else’s negligence. We will always endeavour to give an early indication of the potential value of your claim however, any final settlement will depend upon the type of injury that you suffered, the impact of the injury on your everyday life and how long it takes you to recover.

Will I face disciplinary action from my work if I claim against them?

An employer should not take action against an employee solely because a claim has been made.

How long can claims last for?

It is difficult to say because amputation claims are difficulty and complex. There are varying factors such as treatment, recovery and not only the physical symptoms but the emotional trauma.

When should I approach a law firm for advice? Can I do this prior to finishing medical treatment?

It is important that you seek immediate legal advice. The early stages of a claim can be important in obtaining the correct advice and rehabilitation to ensure a claim is brought to conclusion as reasonable as possible.

How much can a claim be?

We will always endeavour to give an early indication of the potential value of your claim however any final settlement will depend upon the type of injury that you suffered, the impact of the injury on your everyday life and how long it takes you to recover.

Group Action FAQs

How do you handle your group action claim?

How the group action is organised is something that you and your fellow claimants can direct us upon. In previous experience of group claims we have taken instructions from individual claimants who therefore seek updates/correspond with us individually and on their own accord. We have also taken instructions from a lead claimant who then updates their fellow claimants in whichever way they see appropriate.

We can conduct the group action either way. In terms of updates, we are happy to arrange monthly recurring online meetings in order to update the claimants and discuss strategy going forward.

What cases do you specialise in?

Specters solicitors specialise in several areas including:

  • Professional negligence
  • Property damage arising out of fire
  • Conveyancing fraud
  • Mis-sold Investment Schemes

How do I start a group claim?

The first stage of setting up the claim is filling out our claim/ enquiry form. Then our legal expert will take contact details of each potential client so that we can set up a case in each of their names and send out initial documentation.

To get in touch with the Specters team, submit an enquiry below or call us on 0300 303 3629.

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