It is usually considered likely that any person looking to bring a successful negligence claim against a professional will require the testimony of an expert witness to support the claim.
This system of expert witness testimony has long been the accepted method of verifying the validity of a negligence claim against a professional , whether it is a claim against a solicitor, barrister, architect, accountant or IFA.
However, the recent High Court case of ACD (Landscape Architects) Limited v Overall and another goes some way to challenging the assumption that expert evidence is always necessary in establishing grounds for a winning professional negligence claim.
The case in question involved an architect who, after seeking to recover unpaid fees, was served with a counterclaim for negligence which stated that he had been negligent in preparing a pre-planning permission report.
Despite receiving expert witness reports during the case, the High Court made some interesting comments regarding such testimony. It noted that although expert witnesses can be useful, invaluable even, in some cases their involvement may not be required at all – particularly in cases where the costs of expert witness involvement do not match the value of their input.
The comments are certainly interesting, but in all likelihood they will have very little impact on the wider future of negligence claims against professionals.