HomeSMEs, directors & shareholdersCommercial litigationPart 18 Request for Information

Whichever side of a claim you are on – you are entitled to understand what the other sides case is about. Part 18 Requests are a way of formally asking for clarification from the other party

Pre-Action Requests for Information

A Request for Information made pursuant to the Civil Procedure Rules Part 18 is not an investigatory option – it does not allow you to request information to assist your case and may only be made inter-partes i.e., between the parties to the dispute.

  • if you are seeking information from a proposed opponent, there are rules governing the disclosure of information relating to the dispute. 
  • if instead you are seeking information from a third party, you may want to consider seeking a Norwich Pharmacal Order.

However, for the purpose of formal requests for information under Civil Procedure Rules Part 18, this is normally used to help a party to a claim clarify the opponent’s claim (or proposed claim) or defence.  This mirrors the requirements to clarify matters as set out in the rules on what steps the proposed parties should do before proceedings are contemplated and issued. 

Before a claim is issued, there are requirements to set out your claim or respond with your defence.  These are commonly referred to as Pre-Action Protocols.  This is the point where such requests for information to clarify a claim should be made.

Presentations of Requests for Information

In legal proceedings there are strict rules on a request for information being made – it must be in a separate and distinct legal document and needs to address carefully what information is being sought.

Sometimes a Civil Procedure Rules Part 18 request is met by a response that this is not a proper request for information, and so it is important your solicitor properly understands what they are requesting, how best to request it and avoiding any exit for the other party, by not requesting “information” within the definition of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.

A request should also provide an opportunity for your opponent to answer – the Court would not want to review such a request in piecemeal fashion (which is almost certain to threaten a decision that your information request is legitimate and procedurally correct).

Formal and Informal Requests for Information

Generally, the Court will not want to hear ongoing interim applications during the main Court proceedings, especially where such disputes could be managed between the parties.  As stated above, the Court resources are limited and best employed only for those circumstances where the parties really cannot agree.

  • For this reason, the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 require that the parties discuss between them information requests informally, usually by correspondence. 
  • Indeed, it is prudent to put the other party (or their legal advisors) on notice of the intended application pursuant to CPR Part 18 so that their response (and thus conduct) can be considered by the Court on account of any order as to the costs of such an application.

When can you make such a Request for Information?

As with many tools in the commercial litigation kitbag, as Request for Information can be made at any time.  However, for obvious reasons, it is best done before you deal with your evidence.  There is no point seeking information and then filing your evidence before you get an answer – this will only add more legal costs and time to the proceedings, should you then have to apply to the Court for further evidence to be filed (arising from any such information provided).

A Request for Information cannot be used in proceedings brought under legislation which prohibits such a request.  Although this is unusual, your legal advisor should flag up any such risk that may exist.

Misuse of a Request for Information

Requests for Information must be made in respect of genuine queries relating to the proceedings on foot.  This is not a mechanism enabling a party to gain other extraneous commercial advantages, by seeking disclosure of information that could be useful elsewhere.

The Court will of course impose a sanction (usually in costs or by restricting your options in proceedings) if it considers such a request has been made for improper purposes.

Requests for information: an overview

Commercial litigation is a form of dispute resolution which sometimes becomes necessary if a case is not capable of settlement early on.

Court rules (known as the Civil Procedure Rules 1998, or “the CPR”) were brought in in the late 1990s to make litigation and the procedure easier to understand, to create a handbook on such matters and make justice accessible to the public. 

For small claims in the county court this has worked very well, with a more straightforward route to recovering smaller debts under £10,000. 

Regarding more complex claims (commonly referred to as fast track or multi track claims in Part 7 proceedings and Part 8 proceedings – then there is more to consider. 

Common questions to ask at the beginning of any claim include

  • Is the threat of proceedings being just a threat? 
  • What precisely is the claim? 
  • Is this claim one that works as a legal claim? 

All these need to be considered before reacting to any letter or threat, or even draft proceedings, received.

At Francis Wilks & Jones we can assist you with understanding any claims you face or defences you face, and how to seek clarification of them by (if necessary) such a Request for Information.  We fully understand the benefits such options.  Should you require assistance then please do not hesitate to contact us.

If there was ever a star rating for law firms, Francis Wilks & Jones would score five stars plus. Professional and pro-active, they were able to understand my problem quickly, provide expert advice, outline a solution and put it into place with a successful outcome. I should have gone to them sooner.

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