Professional Negligence Claims Part 3 - Pre-action Protocol Procedure

Once a potential claim has been investigated and it appears to be worthwhile pursuing, a procedure known as the ‘Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol’ should be followed. 
The main steps are summarised below:
Preliminary Notice
As soon as the claimant decides there is a reasonable chance that a claim will be brought, he or she should notify the professional in writing with a brief outline of the grievance and an indication of the financial value of the claim.  The professional should acknowledge this letter within 21 days. 
Letter of claim
Once the potential claim has been investigated, the claimant should send a detailed Letter of Claim to the professional.  This should identify the parties involved, set out the facts upon which the claim is based, the allegations against the professional, explain how this caused the alleged loss and provide an estimate of how the loss is calculated.  Supporting documentation should be enclosed if possible.
Letter of Acknowledgement
The professional should acknowledge receipt of the Letter of Claim within 21 days of receiving it.  The professional will then have three months from this date to investigate the claim and respond. 
Letter of Response and Letter of Settlement
Once the investigations have been completed, the professional should send to the claimant a Letter of Response, a Letter of Settlement or both. 
The Letter of Response (normally an open letter) should set out the professional’s answer to the claimant’s allegations.  It should make clear whether the claim, or parts of the claim, are admitted or denied.  The professional should identify any further information which it requires of the claimant. 
A Letter of Settlement (normally a ‘without prejudice’ letter) should make a settlement proposal or identify the further information required before a proposal can be made.
If the claim is denied in its entirety and there is no Letter of Settlement, a claimant may commence court proceedings.  Often, however, further correspondence and negotiations will follow between the parties.

For more information, please see our 'Brief Guide to Professional Negligence Claims'