When we receive correspondence entitled ‘Notice of Court Proceedings’ we often feel shocked, worried and distressed. ‘What does this mean?’ and ‘how will it impact me?’ we ask. If you find yourself in a situation like this, our litigation solicitors are here to guide you through the entire process. Come down to our offices at Windsor Crown House, Slough, SL1 2DX to chat to one of our friendly solicitors. Meanwhile here is a quick guide as to what steps need to be taken before court proceedings.
Life is full of ups and downs and often we find ourselves stuck in situations that are far from ideal. Whether you’re behind on loan repayments or you haven’t paid a penalty, you may receive a notice of court proceedings from your creditors threatening legal action if the fine isn’t paid.
The first step is to try and achieve a resolution without having to go to court. The Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct (PDPAC) of the Civil Procedure Rules explains the need to try to mediate prior to going to court, and any sanctions the court can impose for failing to do so. For example, failure to comply with the pre-action protocols can be taken into account by the courts when making orders as to costs and case management directions.
A claimant’s letter before claim should give concise details about the claim, including but not limited to:
- Their full name and address.
- Why the defendant is liable.
- A clear summary of the facts on which the claim is based.
- What the claimant wants from the defendant.
- A list of the essential documents that the claimant intends to rely on.
If a defendant cannot provide a full written response to the claimant’s letter before claim within 14 days of its receipt, he must instead provide an acknowledgment of letter before claim within the 14 day timeframe, which should include but is not limited to:
- Should state the date by which a full written response will be provided.
- If this date is longer than that set out in the letter before claim, the defendant should give reasons why a longer period is required.
- May request further information to enable the defendant to produce a full written response.
- Should, where the defendant cannot provide a full written response within 14 days of receipt of the letter before claim because they require advice, state:
o that the defendant is seeking advice;
o from whom it is sought; and
o when it is expected to be received, to allow a full response to be given.
The claimant must allow a reasonable time (up to 14 days) for this advice to be obtained.
The defendant’s full response should either:
- Accept the claim in whole or in part.
- State that the claim is not accepted.
If the claim is disputed in whole or in part, the defendant’s response should:
- Give reasons why the claim is not accepted, identifying:
o which parts are accepted and which are disputed; and
o the basis of the dispute.
- State whether the defendant intends to make a counterclaim and, if so, give details of the claim equivalent to the claimant’s letter before claim.
- State whether the defendant alleges that the claimant was wholly or partly to blame for the dispute and give details.
- State whether the defendant agrees to the claimant’s ADR proposals, propose an alternative, or give reasons why ADR is inappropriate.
- List the essential documents on which the defendant intends to rely.
- Enclose copies of documents requested by the claimant or explain why they are not included.
- Identify and request copies of any further documentation.
The claimant should supply copies of documents requested by the defendant within as short a time as practicable or explain in writing why the documents are not provided.