Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol
If someone feels as though they have been mistreated or misguided by a professional who breached their ‘duty of care’, then an advisor should be contacted in order to discuss potentially making a claim and having their case investigated.
Once this has been done, and if the claim is strong and deemed pursuable, a legal procedure known as ‘Pre-Action Protocol Professional Negligence’ should be adhered to, rather than taking the case to court immediately; unless the claimant is approaching the expiry date of the relevant limitation period.
The Professional Negligence Pre Action Protocol is a legal procedure in place that initiates the exchange of information between parties early on, with the aim of getting everything done efficiently.
Another main aim of the Professional Negligence Protocol is to encourage everyone involved to get evidence gathered and everything settled without the need to take it to Court; costing people less money and time. This also means that, if the case was to be taken to Court (because it was unable to be settled), the proceedings would run more smoothly if this protocol has already been followed.
The Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol should be applied to all professional negligence situations, but there are some exceptions; claims against those in construction or healthcare providers, for example, would follow a different protocol.
The Pre Action Protocol Professional Negligence involves a number of steps, all of which can be read in more detail on the Ministry of Justice website. To simplify it, here are some of the main stages of the procedure:
If the claimant finds that they want to start making a claim, he/she will then need to write to the negligent professional (defendant) giving a brief explanation of the claim and the potential value of compensation; this is the Preliminary Notice.
The professional must then respond to this within 21 days, showing they have acknowledged it; known as the Letter of Acknowledgement. The professional will then need to let his/her insurers know and gather evidence so that everything is ready for use at a later stage.
Once the investigations of the claimant’s side have been done, a Letter of Claim needs to be completed next; either by the claimant or their solicitor. It should include all the information and circumstances related to the case in order, the legal argument, any documents and evidence; all of which will be later used to support and prove the whole claim.
It should also state how much financial loss the claimant has suffered. If this cannot be done at the time, it should relay how it will be calculated.
Again, the defendant (or representatives) will need to acknowledge this letter within 21 days of receiving it, by providing another Letter of Acknowledgement. Any information and letters will need to be copied to give to any insurers.
After receiving all the information regarding the claim, the defendant should study all aspects of the case and all allegations made. Once this has been done, they will need to respond in detail to everything stated in the Letter of Claim.
A Letter of Response needs to be written and provided within 3 months after the Letter of Acknowledgement was given to the claimant and their solicitors. Any potential delays with this need to be discussed with the claimant, who should allow the defendant to ask for more time for whatever reason.
The Letter of Response must also state if the defendant is fully or partly responsible, or whether they completely deny the claim. If this is the case, it must be detailed why in the letter, while referring specifically to the allegations that they are disputing. The defendant will need to then explain their side, including any evidence that could later support this.
If the defendant does admit full liability and wants to settle the claim or make an offer, then they should send a Letter of Settlement along with the Letter of Response.
If the Letter of Response completely denies the claim, with no Letter of Settlement, then the claimant can begin the process of proceeding to Court after following the Professional Negligence Pre Action Protocol.
If the claim can be settled and disputes reduced through correspondence (sending the letters as state above), then everyone should aim to finish the process within 6 months; beginning from the date the first Letter of Acknowledgement was received by the claimant.
Here at Accident Line Direct, we understand that the Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol has many steps involved and can be a little confusing. Our expert advisors are here to help provide you with any information you need or to help begin the claims process if you so wish. Call us today for free and we can make the process as simple as possible for you.
Posted in: Professional Negligence on Tuesday 20 February 2018
by Grace Hickman