What are the Pre-Action protocols?

The Pre-Action protocols are contained within the ‘White Book’ of Civil Procedure Rules found on the shelves of almost every litigation solicitor and barrister in England and Wales. The Civil Procedure Rules provide legal practitioners and members of the public looking to represent themselves with the rules and guides to bringing a civil court case effectively.

Civil law covers everything that is not a crime, and whilst the Civil Procedure Rules and Pre-Action protocols apply to most civil cases, they are not applicable in the following areas:

  • Insolvency
  • Non-contentious or common form probate
  • Mental Capacity Act
  • Family proceedings
  • Adoption proceedings
  • Election petitions in the High Court

The Pre-Action protocols were introduced to advise solicitors and litigants-in-person on the information they need to obtain and share with the other parties to the case, prior to it coming to court. This might include submissions to the court itself or the completion of forms relevant to the case. The ultimate aim of securing information in advance is to promote the settlement of cases before they reach court, and failing that to ensure that both parties are properly prepared and understand the process that they are about to embark upon.

Current Pre-Action protocols exist in the following civil law areas:

  • Personal Injury
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Construction and Engineering disputes
  • Defamation
  • Professional Negligence
  • Judicial Review
  • Disease & Illness
  • Housing Disrepair
  • Possession claims based on rent arrears

If you are considering taking legal action on any civil matter it is worth taking legal advice from an experienced litigation solicitor, even if you are considering representing yourself. Whilst the Civil Procedure Rules and Pre-Action protocols were designed for a lay reader, the consequences of error can be highly damaging to your case. It may therefore save you time and money in the long run to seek some legal advice in the first instance.

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