Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
There are a lot of businesses and individuals who will testify to having experienced the following: a normal day, going through the usual routine and feeling good about life when suddenly, a Letter Before Action arrives through the letterbox or pings into the email inbox.
This is never a pleasant experience, whether it is anticipated or if it surprises you out of nowhere and to apply Cricket parlance, hits you for six.
So…what should you do once you receive a Letter Before Action?
This sounds easier said than done as you pore over the fine details of a solicitor’s letterhead, the typically aggressive nature of the written correspondence and the deadline for response “or else” the next correspondence will be from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service. In this moment, keep your cool. Clients often talk about a sense of feeling “guilty” even though this is not a concept in Civil matter. It goes without saying that your opponent wants to make you feel in the wrong and to cave in as early as possible; this is the psychology of litigation. Keep calm, don’t panic and then…
Get stuck in
The legal terminology and relevant law may not make sense to most laypeople. The factual background on the other hand, however, can be understood by all. An important aspect of keeping calm is to actually look through the contents of the letter and dissect the contents as much as you can. Where you disagree with the facts, be sure to highlight, make notes and start compiling your evidence in support of your stance. This will make you feel better and more in control of the situation.
You know who you are – the clients that receive a Letter Before Action and either ignore it in the hope the letter magics itself away or those who prevaricate and arrive at the solicitor’s office door at the 11th hour in a frenzied panic. The failure to deal with a Letter Before Action in time leaves the very obvious possibility of court proceedings being issued. At that point, you have entered the costly court process and must act or risk a Default Judgment being made against you. Save a lot of grief by acting quickly and doing the next and final thing…
Consult a Solicitor
We have seen this before. We know what needs to be done and what the timeframes are. We know the law and exist to help you. Do not hesitate to arrange a consultation with your solicitor and go through your case at this early stage rather than risking the possible escalation of the matter; it will be money well spent!
Abeer Sharma is a Solicitor in Hanne & Co’s Property Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department