A letter before claim also known as a letter before action is a letter informing an individual or company that court proceedings may be brought against them for reasons set out in the letter.
How do I prepare a letter before action?
As soon as the claimant has decided that there are potential grounds for a professional negligence claim, then it should send a Letter of Claim to the professional which amounts to a notice of intention to commence legal proceedings. It is recommended that the assistance of specialist professional negligence lawyers is sought for this correspondence as this is an important letter and if not handled correctly can lead to a reduced chance of obtaining a settlement or reduced prospects at trial especially if the subsequent Particulars of Claim (which is a statement of case) differs from the Letter of Claim in which case the court has the discretion to impose sanctions.
What is the Professional Negligence Protocol?
The professional negligence pre-action protocol states that the Letter of Claim should include:
- the identities of any parties involved in the dispute, or any related dispute (it is important to identify any and all correct defendants including successor entities before the limitation period expires);
- a chronology containing key dates of the facts on which the claim is based, together with copies of all key documents;
- reasonable requests which the claimant needs to make for documents held by or in control of the professional;
- any details of the allegations made by the claimant against the professional;
- an estimate of the financial loss caused to the claimant by the alleged negligence, including details of how the loss is calculated (in any claim this figure will likely be the subject of expert evidence, for example, consequential losses or loss of chance are difficult to quantify at the outset of a claim without expert evidence therefore an estimate will suffice at this stage, for example “in excess of £2 million”);
- confirmation of whether or not an expert has been appointed (expert evidence is an important part of any claim in litigation and as experienced professional negligence lawyers we have forged many contacts with leading experts in different industries from forensic accounts to hedging derivatives experts);
- a request that a copy of the Letter of Claim be forwarded on receipt to the professional’s indemnity insurers (if they have any);
- an indication of whether you agree to refer the dispute to adjudication. If so, propose three adjudicators or seek a nomination. If you don’t wish to refer the dispute to adjudication, you should give reasons.
In addition, if the claimant has sent other Letters of Claim to any other party in relation to the same dispute or a related dispute, those letters should also be provided with the Letter of Claim.
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Instruct Specialist Professional Negligence Solicitors
We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers operating from the only law firm based in the Middle Temple Inn of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice. Our team have expertise in advising on claims for compensation against professionals that have fallen below the standard expected, which causes clients financial or personal loss. We are experienced in bringing successful claims against negligent solicitors, barristers, financial advisers, insurance brokers, surveyors, valuers, architects, tax advisers and IFAs.