What is a Request for Information (“RFI”)?
Upon receipt of a statement of case or at any time in the proceedings, a party to proceedings may consider that the statement of case does not provide sufficient information about the claim. A formal request can be made under CPR 18.1(1) for the other party to clarify or provide additional information in relation to any such issue.
An RFI or a ‘Part 18 Request’ can be used to:
- clarify a specific issue in the case
- narrow the issues in dispute between the parties
- give additional information in relation to a matter in the proceedings which has not been done otherwise by witness evidence
- reveal weaknesses in the other party’s case by highlighting a specific issue which is not clear in the party’s statement of case
- obtain an admission on a specific issue in the proceedings
The matter to which a Request for Information relates does not need to be contained or referred to in a statement of case i.e. a pleaded issue, however it should be relevant to the proceedings.
When can I make an RFI?
Before making an application to the court for an order under CPR Part 18, the party seeking clarification or information should first serve on the party from whom it is sought a written request for that clarification or information stating a date by which the response to the Request should be served.
Norris J considered that a request for further information arose as part of the responsibility of the court to manage cases and of the parties to co-operate in the just and efficient disposal of the issues between them.
An RFI can generally be made at any time during the proceedings. In Lalana Hans Place Ltd v Michael Barclay Partnership LLP  EWHC 29 (TCC), the claimant argued that an RFI, made one week before trial, was made too late. The Judge allowed the request, holding that if an application went to an issue that was relevant to the fair disposal of the the trial, it would not be refused, simply on the grounds of delay.
How do I prepare an RFI?
Paragraph 1.2 of Practice Direction 18 states that a request should be concise and strictly confined to matters which are “reasonably necessary and proportionate” to enable the first party to prepare his own case or to understand the case he has to meet. Paragraph 1.6 of Practice Direction 18 sets out requirements for a Request for Information.
Responding to an RFI
A response to an RFI must be in writing, dated and signed by the second party or his legal representative (paragraph 2.1 of CPR Practice Direction 18).
The receiving party is allowed ‘a reasonable time to respond’ (paragraph 1.1 of CPR Practice Direction 18).
Like other statements of case in the proceedings, a response should be verified by a statement of truth (as set out in Part 22).
Objecting to an RFI
Often the receiving party may consider an RFI to be disproportionate, irrelevant to the proceedings or a “fishing expedition”.
If the receiving party objects to complying with the RFI or is unable to do so in the time allocated, he must inform the requesting party promptly.
If the receiving party considers that an RFI can only be complied with at disproportionate expense and objects to comply for that reason he should say so in his reply and explain briefly why he has taken that view (paragraph 4.2 of CPR Practice Direction 18).
There is no requirement to notify the Court but if an application is made, the receiving party must be prepared to clearly set out its objections.
Court order under Part 18
An application can be made to the Court for an order under paragraph 5 of CPR Practice Direction 18 and CPR Part 23, if the recipient does not respond or does not provide an ‘adequate response’. The application can be dealt with by the Court on paper, without a hearing.
Parties are encouraged to take a co-operative approach when it comes to RFIs and courts may encourage parties to provide information even where they are not legally obliged to do so if this would save time and costs.
“Only if any issues could not be resolved in correspondence, should they be referred to the court and, preferably, dealt with at the first case management conference.”Berezovsky v Abramovich  EWHC 1138
“It will be observed that the emphasis…is on confining this part of any litigation (in which costs tended to get out of control in the pre-CPR regime) “strictly” to what is necessary and proportionate and to the avoidance of disproportionate expense.”
The Court can direct that information provided under an RFI must not be used for any purpose except for that of the proceedings in which it is given (paragraph 18.2 of CPR 18).
Failure to comply with order for RFI
If you fail to comply with a court order to provide further information that are final orders, this can result in unless orders which can eventually lead to your case being struck out.
A receiving or objecting party must be prepared to give valid, cogent reasons as to why it failed to comply with a court order and respond adequately to an RFI.
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