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Before proceedings are issued against a party it is vitally important that the General Practice on Pre-action Conduct (PDPAC) has been complied with.
The PDPAC applies to claims brought on all of the tracks; there may also be additional pre-action protocols set out in the Civil Procedure Rules or the Practice Directions which accompany them.
The aim of the PDPAC is to enable the parties to explore potential settlement of a claim before proceedings are issued, and if proceedings are issued, to assist the courts in the efficient management of the claim.
The principles of Pre-action Conduct are:
- The parties should exchange sufficient information to allow them to understand each other’s position and make informed decisions about settlement and how to proceed
- Attempt to resolve the matter and consider the use of by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
- Act in a reasonable and proportionate manner (particularly in relation to costs)
If proceedings are brought but one or both of the parties have failed to comply with the PDPAC then the court can impose the following sanctions:
- Stay proceedings until the necessary steps are taken
- Make a costs order against the non-compliant party
- Award interest at a lesser level than that claimed by the non-compliant party
- Award interest against the non-compliant party at a higher rate than originally claimed by the Claimant
The PDPAC encourages the parties to settle the dispute without the need for proceedings to be entered. Even where it is clear that a settlement is not likely it is important to carry out the pre-action conduct in accordance with the PDPAC so that the courts are able to manage the case quickly and efficiently if proceedings are entered into.
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