These are the rules and procedures that both sides are expected to follow before consideration is given to commencing formal court proceedings. The person making the claim is known as the “Claimant” and the person or organisation against whom the case is being pursued is known as the “Defendant”.
There are various Protocols in place which vary according to the type of case. The 2 that are most likely to apply to a CRPS compensation claim are the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims, and the Pre-Action Protocol for the Resolution of Clinical Disputes. All of the Protocols form part of the court rules (called the “Civil Procedure Rules”) even though the formal court process has not yet started.
The most important part of the Protocols from the Claimants point of view is that they set out a timetable. The first significant step is that the Claimant’s solicitors must write a fairly detailed letter to the intended Defendant setting out the grounds of the claim. This is called a “Letter of Claim”. The Defendant is required to acknowledge the letter within 14 days and then provide a detailed reply within 4 months of the Letter of Claim. This is called the “Letter of Response”.
It is possible that the Defendant will through in the towel at this point, but unfortunately that is very rare. Defendants nearly always have lots of reasons why they think that they are not responsible, and why they shouldn’t pay! Very often the real driving force behind the Defendants response is a large insurance company.
It is true to say that, in most cases, the communications between the Claimant and the Defendant during this stage of the process merely serve to crystallise the areas of disagreement. Almost inevitably, this will lead to the Claimant being advised to start formal court proceedings in order to progress the claim to the next level.