Letter Before Claim Solicitors UK Lawyers

What is a letter before claim?

Informally known as a ‘pre-action letter’ or ‘letter before action’, a letter before claim (“LBC”) is a letter sent from a claimant to a potential defendant which sets out the details of the claim that is being advanced and may be pursued in court.

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What is a letter before claim?

letter before claim (sometimes known as a ‘letter before action‘) is a formal letter putting a person on notice that court proceedings may be brought against them. It is a formal legal notice sent by one party to another before initiating court proceedings.

What are the Rules on Letters Before Action?

In the context of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR), which govern civil litigation in England and Wales, the letter before claim is an essential step in the pre-action protocol process. The CPR encourages parties to try to resolve their disputes without resorting to formal court proceedings.

The CPR contains practice directions on pre-action conduct and protocols. In summary these demand that before commencing proceedings, the court will expect the parties to have exchanged sufficient information to:

  • understand each other’s position;
  • consider Alternative Dispute Resolution to assist with settlement;
  • try to settle the issues without proceedings;
  • make decisions about how to proceed;
  • support efficient management of the proceedings;
  • reduce the costs of resolving the dispute.

What’s the Purpose of a Pre-action Letter?

The CPR sets out the expectations for parties before they commence legal action. The purpose of the letter before claim is to promote openness, transparency, and early communication between the parties involved in the dispute. The key elements included in the letter before claim, as per CPR, are as follows:

  1. Exchanging Sufficient Information: The parties should provide each other with enough information about their respective positions, evidence, and legal arguments so that they can fully understand the case presented by the other side.
  2. Making Informed Decisions: Armed with the information exchanged, both parties should be able to make informed decisions about how to proceed further in the dispute resolution process.
  3. Settlement Attempts: The parties should actively attempt to settle the issues in dispute without the need for formal court proceedings. This may involve negotiation, mediation, or other methods of resolution.
  4. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Parties are encouraged to consider using ADR methods, such as mediation or arbitration, as an alternative way to resolve the dispute, which may lead to a quicker and more cost-effective resolution.
  5. Efficient Management: The CPR emphasizes the need to support efficient case management and avoid unnecessary delays.
  6. Cost Reduction: By engaging in open communication, exploring settlement options, and using ADR, the parties can work towards reducing the overall costs associated with resolving the dispute.

Sending a letter before claim is seen as a reasonable and constructive approach before initiating costly and time-consuming court proceedings. The CPR expects parties to act in good faith during this pre-action phase and to comply with the pre-action protocols relevant to their specific type of dispute. Failure to adhere to the pre-action protocol may have consequences, including potential cost sanctions or other orders from the court.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements and procedures for a letter before claim may vary depending on the nature of the dispute and the applicable jurisdiction. If you are considering initiating legal action, it is crucial to seek advice from a qualified legal professional to ensure compliance with the relevant rules and protocols. Get in touch with us.

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, a well-drafted Letter Before Claim typically includes the following elements:

  1. Clear identification of the parties involved in the dispute.
  2. A concise explanation of the facts and detail of the claim.
  3. Reference to any relevant legal or contractual documents.
  4. A detailed account of the claimant’s position and the relief sought.
  5. If the claimant is seeking to recover debt then they should list all of these debts.
  6. A request for the defendant to respond within a specific timeframe.
  7. Encouragement for the parties to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation, to resolve the matter outside of court.
  8. A reasonable time limit for the defendant to reply.
  9. A clear statement that you will initiate court proceedings if you do not receive a reply.
  10. A warning of the costs consequences that will follow once legal proceedings are commenced because the other side will ultimately have to pay towards your court costs and solicitors fees.

Litigation and Debt Cases we accept:

We do not work on small value claims under £10,000 unless you are pursuing an undisputed debt against a company such as enforcing a court judgment which is worth more than £750. In which case please review our practice area website about winding-up petitions.

You are welcome to instruct us on your case including to write a letter before claim and the first step is to book a fixed fee conference with the relevant team. You will need to provide us your papers in a PDF bundle and at least 3 members of the firm will review the papers. You will then be given advice in a video conference meeting with a qualified solicitor and barrister both of whom have expertise in the areas of law connected to your dispute. They will advise you on your claim’s merits and demerits and the prospects of success and best way forward.

We have a minimum fee of £1500 plus VAT to be instructed for the above review and advice meeting work. For regulatory reasons, we do not give any free advice.

  • We assess your case and work out if it is worth pursuing. If it has low merit or value or high risk we warn you quickly.
  • We analyse and work out the legal merits of running your case to trial or to settlement via ADR or another cost-effective method of resolution.
  • We calculate and advise on the legal risk factors in litigation.
  • We explain and guide you through the Civil Procedure Rules in England & Wales.
  • We factor in your risk-appetite, costs sensitivity and determination.
  • Together, we tailor the best possible result for you.
  • Our lawyers deliver strategic legal advice at your first meeting with us.

Check Your Litigation Case ✔

We analyse your case prospects. We deliver strategic legal advice at your first fixed fee meeting. We get optimal legal results. Want our opinion on your case? Click below or call our lawyers in London on ☎ 02071830529

The Recovery of Pre-action Legal Costs pertains to the costs incurred by parties before the commencement of court proceedings. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and Jackson reforms encourage parties to resolve disputes through Pre-Action Protocols (PAPs) before litigation.

The recoverability of pre-action costs hinges on whether proceedings have been issued. If proceedings are issued, costs, including pre-action costs, can be recovered at the court’s discretion. But, if no claim is issued, then generally no costs related to proceedings can be recovered, even if pre-action costs were incurred following the PAPs. However there are ways to secure costs.

  • Webb Resolutions Ltd v Countrywide Surveyors Ltd highlighted the importance of considering recoverability before issuing proceedings. The court allowed the defendant to recover both pre-action and post-issue costs, emphasising the discretionary nature of cost awards.
  • If a Part 36 settlement offer is made without issuing proceedings, Part 36 costs consequences may apply. If proceedings are issued and then settled, the court can decide on costs, considering factors like conduct and proportionality.
  • Parties can also negotiate settlements to agree on cost distribution.

To safeguard their positions, parties should seek specialist legal advice at an early stage, particularly concerning pre-action costs. It’s essential to understand the implications of initiating proceedings or pursuing settlement options to avoid unnecessary cost burdens.

We provide nationwide legal representation

We will represent you no matter where you are based in England or Wales. Contact us through our contact form, by email or by phone, then one of our team will liaise with you to discuss your matter and assess whether we can help you. We can arrange a fixed fee conference with senior members of our legal team. This meeting will take place via a video link accessible via your phone, tablet or laptop. Therefore, no matter where you are based in England or Wales we can represent you.

Instruct Specialist Litigation Lawyers

We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers and based in the Middle Temple Inns of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice.  We are experts in dealing with matters surrounding insolvency in particular issues.  Our team have unparalleled experience at serving statutory demands, negotiating with debtors/creditors, setting aside statutory demands and both issuing and defending winding up petitions vigorously at the Royal Courts of Justice (Rolls Building), or the relevant High Court District Registry or County Court with jurisdiction under the Insolvency Rules.


The Limitation Act 1980 sets out strict statutory deadlines within which you must bring litigation claims. Your legal rights will become irreversibly time-barred if you fail to take legal action (or defend a claim on time). Therefore, you should seek specific legal advice about your legal dispute at the very first opportunity so that you understand the time you have left. Failure to take advice or delay in taking action can be fatal to your prospects of success.

Please note that for regulatory reasons we do not offer any free advice.