Following an accident, we, as the solicitors acting for you, will need to send a letter setting out the fact you are bringing a claim to the other side as an initial step and allow them a reasonable time to respond before going to court.
It is the single most important step to take before going to court and if this letter is wrong it is likely to cause some serious problems in the future – so don’t attempt to complete and file it by yourself.
The exact requirements of the letter are set out in the relevant practice direction or protocol, but essentially the letter contains the following:
- sets out what you want and why you feel entitled to it. The other side need enough information to be able to understand what you are claiming for to allow them to investigate the claim;
- copies of any essential documents you will rely on must be attached;
- a deadline for them to (a) acknowledge the letter and then (b) provide a full response. The timescales must be reasonable and may be set out in the practice direction or protocol;
- the steps to be taken if they do not respond (clue: you will be taking the matter to court);
- asks for any essential documents they have that you wish to see or that they will rely on against you;
- an offer to discuss possible settlement should they agree that you have a claim, even if only in part; and
- refers them to the practice direction or protocol you are following so that they know and can apply the same.
Do not be surprised if they follow a different procedure. Where you are injured and they are not then a different protocol applies to them which allows them to go to court more quickly.