Information Is King

Requests for InformationRequests for Further Information

This is the seventh article in a series focusing on specialist skills and knowledge in Civil Litigation. Litigation can be a time-consuming and expensive process, but what happens when one side is not pulling their weight? What I mean by this is how does a party that has set out their statement of case clearly and provided full disclosure deal with an opponent that is giving “the silent treatment”? It may be that a “silent” party does not realise that their statement of case raises more questions than it answers. More likely they know exactly what they are doing and want to say as little as possible. At any point a party may “clam up”, leaving the other side struggling to get a clear idea of the case they are up against.

Consider this example. In most civil matters, long before a Claimant brings a claim, they should have set out their case to any potential Defendant.* Once a claim has been issued, the Defendant should have been aware of the issues for a number of weeks if not months. If they then file a Defence that simply denies a claim without giving any justification, a Claimant may end up being surprised by an unexpected Defence. It is not in a Claimant’s interest to wait until a hearing to ask a question, so what they can do is make a request for Further and Better Particulars. These requests should first be made informally, but if little or no further information is provided then a formal request can be made for a court order.

In the above scenario we have only considered the situation where you have an uncooperative Defendant. The right to make a request for further information is not limited to just one party – the procedure is available for both Claimants and Defendants. Nor are requests limited to questions about the broad details of a Claim or Defence; you can ask for more information about any part of a party’s statement of case.

The procedure for making a Request for Further and Better Particulars is set out in Part 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules. The rules created a procedure that allows any matter in dispute to be clarified or for additional information to be provided, even if the information sought is not referred to in the statement of case. A few of the key rules that apply include:

  1. The request should be in writing and confirm when a response should be served.
  2. The request should be concise and only ask for information which is reasonably necessary and proportionate (i.e. not too expensive to obtain).
  3. Rather than making numerous requests, you should try to make one (or possibly two) requests.
  4. A request can be made by letter (if it is brief), but it is more common for it to be made in a separate document headed up with the name of the Court, title and claim number.

It is in the interests of all parties that a case runs smoothly. Applications for further information should be rare, but it is human nature to only present information that is favorable to your case. Having a simple procedure to ensure all parties are encouraged to present their case with “warts and all” will hopefully encourage a more open and co-operative approach by both Claimant and Defendant lawyers.

*This is because generally a pre-action protocol will have applied.