What happens if good advice turns into bad advice?

Advice and services from professional people like lawyers, accountants and financial advisers help us in all sorts of ways.

However like anything in life there are times when it doesn't work out as we'd hoped. If mistakes, bad advice, or bad service from a professional person causes someone to lose out, it can be a bitter pill to swallow.

If you feel you are in this situation here's some things to bear in mind.

Speaking up about lawyers

The first thing to try always is to contact the lawyer or the organisation they work for and explain the situation to them from your point of view. You can make this a complaint about what has happened. 

If possible you should do this in writing in a letter or an email, so there is something to refer back to. You can use the Legal Ombudsman's template letter of complaint.

You should describe how you believe the advice or service has been negligent towards you, and what you would like to happen next. This allows the lawyer or the firm the chance to respond and put things right for you if they can.

If you are a member of the public and the complaint doesn't get resolved to your satisfaction with your lawyer you can then talk to the Legal Ombudsman, the free and independent service set up to help resolve legal service disputes.  See their page on how they can help the public.

Some organisations can also use the Legal Ombudsman's services, including some charities, and other people who, for example, are beneficiaries of someone else's estate. See the Legal Ombudsman's site for more details.

If the lawyer you have used is regulated, you can report them to the legal regulator that keeps watch over them. Regulators can't give you advice about whether the negligence has occurred but they can decide if there is action they can take to keep the wider public protected. See here for details on how to contact a legal regulator.

Speaking up about other professional people

There are lots of other professional people that give advice and carry out services for you, like accountants and doctors. If you believe they have been negligent towards you, and you have not been able to resolve your complaint with them, there may be an Ombudsman service that can help you.

To find out if an Ombudsman service can help you see the Citizens Advice's guide.

Taking a lawyer or another professional to court

Depending on the situation people do sometimes look to take a professional person to court when they believe they have been negligent towards them.

Like everything in life there are pros and cons to be aware of and it is important to be clear about what you want to achieve. To understand your options, and see step-by-step guides through this process (as well as other alternatives to going to court) take a look at Advicenow's website.

If you still believe that court action is the way you want to proceed it is sensible to get some initial advice from a lawyer who can give you an initial assessment of your case. See our page on different types of lawyers, including how to find one.

The lawyer will also be able to advise you about funding options if they agree it is a case they could take forward for you. Sometimes ‘no win no fee' agreements are available for this type of case.