Why do I need to write a letter before claim?
If a dispute proceeds to litigation, the court will expect the parties to have complied with a relevant pre-action protocol or this Practice Direction. The court will take into account non-compliance when giving directions for the management of proceedings (see CPR 3.1(4) to (6)) and when making orders for costs (see CPR 44.3(5)(a)). The court will consider whether all parties have complied in substance with the terms of the relevant pre-action protocol or this Practice Direction and is not likely to be concerned with minor or technical infringements, especially when the matter is urgent (for example an application for an injunction).
What are the pre-action protocols?
Pre-action rules govern the conduct of the parties and what steps should be taken before issuing a claim. Non-compliance with UK litigation pre-action protocols may mean a party is later punished by the court in terms of costs.
Before proceedings are commenced, the parties are required to act reasonably in exchanging information and documents relevant to the dispute. The aim is to avoid the need for legal proceedings by encouraging resolution of the dispute by other means.
What if there is no relevant pre-action protocol to follow?
Where there is a relevant pre-action protocol, the parties should comply with that protocol before commencing proceedings. Where there is no relevant pre-action protocol, the parties should exchange correspondence and information to comply with the objectives in paragraph 3, bearing in mind that compliance should be proportionate. The steps will usually include—
(a) the claimant writing to the defendant with concise details of the claim. The letter should include the basis on which the claim is made, a summary of the facts, what the claimant wants from the defendant, and if money, how the amount is calculated;
(b) the defendant responding within a reasonable time – 14 days in a straight forward case and no more than 3 months in a very complex one. The reply should include confirmation as to whether the claim is accepted and, if it is not accepted, the reasons why, together with an explanation as to which facts and parts of the claim are disputed and whether the defendant is making a counterclaim as well as providing details of any counterclaim; and
(c) the parties disclosing key documents relevant to the issues in dispute.
What do I write in a letter before claim?
Before court proceedings are commenced, a claimant should consider sending a Letter of Claim to the defendant.
Whilst each claim will require different information in the Letter of Claim as a general guide it should contain the following information:
- your name and address;
- concise detail of the claim;
- summary of the facts;
- if the claimant is seeking to recover debt then they should list all of these debts;
- a reasonable time limit for the defendant to reply, usually 14 days;
- a clear statement that you will initiate court proceedings if you do not receive a reply.
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