We will have to often ask you for information to help us run your case. Time limits may mean that you should not delay. If you think that any information is important or relevant, however trivial, please tell us. If in doubt speak with us as some points may be important but without you knowing about it!
The new court procedures and rules
There are new court rules to enable cases to settle or be resolved quickly or be speedier in court all with tight controls on costs. But it places obligations on both parties.
The issue of court proceedings is often seen as a last resort. We cannot engage in deliberate delaying tactics or attitudes such as “see you in court” or “issue claim first and then we will talk”.
The court will be taking an early view of the strength of your case and the proportionality of legal costs incurred compared to the benefit of the potential outcome.
Pre-action protocols require a “cards on the table approach”. Information and evidence must be exchanged early. You are expected to explore every avenue to resolve the case. This includes mediation and negotiation. If you fail in this respect then you may be heavily penalised by the court. If settlement offers (Part 36 offers) Are received, they will require a careful discussion between us.
All of this means “front loading of your case” i.e. early investigation of the facts, analysis of the law and work on documents and instructions of experts. You are responsible for the legal charges for this early work and these costs may be irrecoverable.
The courts and in particular judges will take control of how the case is conducted. They have wide ranging powers and their decisions are thus bound to be unpredictable. Time limits will be enforced rigidly and conduct will be penalised if it is felt to be unreasonable or out of proportion to what is at stake.
Claims for negligence and the rules imposed by the court
The court now encourage the parties to try and resolve any disputes without resort to the court, this is known as the Pre-Action Protocol. The procedure is for the claimant to send a Letter of Claim, which details the breaches and your losses. The relevant professional will have 21 days in which to acknowledge receipt of the letter. After acknowledging the letter they will then have three months in which to investigate. If there is a reasonable request for an extension of this three-month period then this should be agreed. As soon as investigations are complete then the relevant professional will send either a Letter of Response or a Letter of Settlement.