New pre-action protocol for professional negligence claims

The Professional Negligence Pre-action Protocol has recently been updated. The protocol sets out a code of good practice and contains the steps which parties should generally follow before commencing court proceedings in respect of a professional negligence claim.

The stated aims are to enable parties to:

- understand and properly identify the issues in dispute in the proposed claim and share information and relevant documents;
- make informed decisions as to whether and how to proceed;
- try to settle the dispute without proceedings or reduce the issues in dispute;
- avoid unnecessary expense and keep down the costs of resolving the dispute; and
- support the efficient management of proceedings where court proceedings cannot be avoided.

Some noteworthy new provisions in the updated protocol are:

- Litigants in person are to be provided with added assistance to ensure they are aware of the procedures required in their claim, including providing copies of the protocol.
- 6 months from the date of Preliminary Notice, if the claimant has not sent any further correspondence, the clamant should inform the professional of its plans regarding the claim.
- Where the dispute has not been resolved during the pre-action stage, the parties should undertake a further review of their respective positions.  The parties should consider the state of the papers and the evidence in order to see if proceedings can be avoided and, at the least, narrow the issues between them.

Update - the link for the new protocol can be found here.