Advisors beware!

The Dutch Reformed Political Party (SGP) believes that unborn life is sacrosanct. So much so that the SGP leader, Kees van der Staaij, wants to prohibit abortion even following rape. This proposal has provoked national outrage.

According to Van der Staaij, research shows that it is virtually impossible to get pregnant as a result of rape. He bases this claim on a study dating from 1984. However, more recent evidence has discredited this study.

A similar uproar recently took place in American politics. Shouldn’t the SGP’s advisor have been aware of this? Wasn’t it his responsibility to protect Van der Staaij? Can an advisor be held liable in a case like this?

Employment law is clear on this issue. If the advisor is an employee, then as a matter of principle he is not liable for any injury suffered by his employer. The only circumstances that would change this are where the injury resulted from his deliberate action or where he was aware of the consequences that this advice could have.

If the advisor was engaged under a contract for services, a different standard applies. Often an advisor does not guarantee a result, he merely promises his best efforts. We must then consider whether the advisor acted in the manner expected of a reasonably skilled advisor acting reasonably in the relevant circumstances. If not, then the advisor is liable. But what will the compensation cover? After all, you can’t claim compensation for the loss of two parliamentary seats.

If you believe that someone has given you the wrong advice, the sensible course is to discuss the situation with the advisor and work together to find a solution. If that doesn’t work out, you could consider making a claim against the advisor. Just make sure you choose the right legal advisor!