The Ministry of Justice has published an updated version of the Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence. It sets out for the first time that parties should consider adjudication before taking court action. Those that do not will have to give reasons and may face the risk of higher costs in court.
The protocol sets out the steps claimants should take to settle a dispute before resorting to court action. The updated version, published on 30 April 2018, says that people should indicate whether they want to refer the complaint to adjudication in their letter of claim.
Adjudication, or other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), are not mandatory. However, case law has consistently shown that the courts impose costs penalties on parties who do not try to resolve their dispute before turning to the courts – even if they go on to win their case.
Both parties must agree to have their claim dealt with by adjudication. An expert adjudicator is appointed who considers evidence and written submissions before reaching a decision. The adjudicator is able to make a financial award to the successful party. The outcome is legally binding unless subsequently altered by the courts.
“Adjudication and other methods of ADR are cheaper and quicker means of settling disputes than court proceedings,” said James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions.
“Taking a professional negligence claim to trial is an expensive and time-consuming business. It can take principals’ eyes off running their firms, leading to longer-term business performance issues,” he added.
Details of the changes have been published in the Ministry of Justice’s website, along with the amended pre-action protocol. Reports on the amendments have been published by the London Market Association and Walker Morris.
Categorised in: General PI News
This post was written by Hazel Postma