What Is a Pre-Action Letter?

A pre-action letter, sometimes known as a ‘letter before action’, or a ‘letter before claim’, is a formal letter notifying an individual or business that court proceedings may be brought against them.

Why do I need to write a pre-action letter?

The court expects the parties to have complied with the relevant pre-action protocol before commencing proceedings.

What are pre-action protocols?

Pre-action protocols are rules that guide what steps the parties should take before commencing court proceedings. If either party does not comply with the protocol, the court may penalise them on costs at a later date.

The aim of this is to try to avoid the need for court proceedings by encouraging resolution of the dispute in another way. By exchanging information and understanding each other’s position, often costly litigation can be avoided.

What is included in a pre-action letter?

Each claim will differ and will thus require different information to be included in the letter. As a general guide, the following information should be included:

  • Your name and address
  • Copies of all relevant documents
  • Concise details of the claim
  • A summary of the facts
  • A list of the debts owed, if applicable
  • A reasonable time limit for a response (14 days if the letter is being sent to a business and 30 days if it is being sent to an individual or sole trader)
  • A statement that you will initiate court proceedings if you do not receive a response

If the pre-action letter is being sent to an individual or a sole trader, the letter must be in the form prescribed by the pre-action protocol for debt claims.

If you have received a pre-action letter, we highly advise that you seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further or are looking for independent advice when sending a pre-action letter, please contact our highly knowledgeable and friendly dispute resolution team on 01603 677077.