The importance of conduct before Court proceedings

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Gavin Evans, Senior Associate Solicitor in the Commercial Dispute Resolution Team, discusses the importance of the ‘Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols’ before Court proceedings.

The ‘Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols’ came into force on 6 April 2015. The Practice Direction provides guidance on how parties should act prior to issuing proceedings and encourages the exchange of information to enable parties to understand each other’s case and narrow the issues in dispute. There is now a particular emphasis on viewing litigation as a last resort and parties are required to consider whether a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution may be appropriate. As a final step, before issuing proceedings, parties should review their position and consider again whether the issues can be narrowed. A failure to comply with the Practice Direction may result in sanctions being imposed by the Court. These might include costs orders against a non-compliant party or a stay on proceedings until a Claimant has complied with the Practice Direction.

Gavin Evans, comments:

“Whilst compliance with the Practice Direction is not mandatory, there are sanctions for non-compliance and we encourage clients to comply with the Practice Direction as far as possible. There will always be circumstances where full compliance is impractical – for example if limitation is an issue – and so the possible repercussions of non-compliance should be considered as part of an evaluation of the entire case. Pre-action negotiation and discussion can help to reduce costs and avoid the need for litigation and this is particularly significant given the dramatic increase in Court fees which came into effect on 9 March 2015.”

Our Commercial Dispute Resolution Team deals with commercial disputes from the first signs of trouble through to Court proceedings and will advise on the most appropriate course of action, be that pre-action negotiation, formal Alternative Dispute Resolution processes such as mediation, or Court proceedings.

To discuss any of these matters in further detail, please contact Gavin Evans on 0121 710 5950 or gevans@wilkes.co.uk.