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    Professional negligence claims soar as lenders take to the courts

    The number of professional services firms that were sued for negligence increased by 125 per cent last year to the highest level in more than a decade, figures show.

    Claims filed in the High Court against professionals such as accountants, lawyers and estate agents jumped from 147 to 332 as investors and lenders pursued advisers for losses sustained as a result of the recession.
    Solicitors faced the most lawsuits, with negligence claims rising from 80 in 2008 to 210 last year.  The number of claims against property agents and surveyors rose from one to 25, the figures indicate.
    Overall, the number of claims against professional services firms has reached the highest level since 1998, according to Syscap, a finance company that lends to professional services firms, which compiled the data.
    Many of the claims involve allegations of complicity in mortgage fraud.  Lenders who have lost money because of mortgage fraud often regard pursuing professional advisers as their best hope of recovering their losses.
    Some claimants are pursuing professional firms more aggressively as a result of lawyers taking cases on conditional fees, under which they would get paid only if the claim succeeded.

    “The Times” 23.08.2010