Professional Negligence Claims part 4 - Court Proceedings

In the fourth part of the series we give an overview of the court proceedings stage.

If the parties fail to solve the dispute by following the Professional Negligence Pre-Action Protocol, then the claimant will need to decide whether or not to issue court proceedings. 

Claimants should bear in mind that they are likely to be ordered to pay the defendant professional’s legal costs if the claim is unsuccessful.  It may be possible to obtain ‘after the event’ insurance to protect against this risk and a claimant should discuss this with his or her legal advisers. 

The first stage in commencing court proceedings is to prepare a claim form and particulars of claim.  The particulars of claim set out the basis of the claim in detail (ie the relevant facts, duty of care, breach, causation and loss). 

Once a claim has been issued it must be served upon the defendant or solicitors authorised to accept service on behalf of the defendant. 
It is relatively rare for cases to proceed all the way to trial.  However, there are a number of stages before trial and it is not unusual for claims to take over a year to reach that stage.  The parties will have to deal with matters such as disclosure, exchange of witness statements, expert evidence (if applicable) and preparation for trial.

The rules and procedures (The Civil Procedure Rules) are complex and it is certainly advisable for claimants to have legal representation. 

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