Out-Law Guide | 05 Aug 2011 | 2:58 pm | 3 min. read
During the pre-trial stage of court proceedings, a party may sometimes take the view that the statement of case provided by the other party does not provide enough information about the nature of the claim or the party's defence. In these circumstances, a formal request can be made to the other party to either clarify or give additional information in relation to any such matter.
These requests are governed by Part 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). Generally a Part 18 request will be made shortly after the relevant statement of case is served. Part 18 requests are commonly used:
A Part 18 request should not be made merely to highlight the weaknesses of the other party's case.
Procedure for Part 18 requests for further information
The procedure for making a Part 18 request involves:
The preliminary request: the party making the request, who we shall call the 'first party', must first serve it on the other party (the 'second party'), stating a reasonable date by which the response should be served. The Part 18 request should be confined to only those matters which are reasonably necessary and proportionate for the first party to prepare its own case or understand the case it has to meet. Usually a Part 18 request will take the form of a letter which should state that it is written under Part 18. The letter must not deal with any matters other than the Part 18 request.
The response to the preliminary request: a Part 18 request made by letter will usually be responded to by letter. This letter should identify itself as a response to the Part 18 request and deal with no matters other than the response. This response may take the form of an answer or an objection.
The Part 18 order: an application can be made for an order under Part 18 if the response does not satisfy the first party or the second party does not respond. The application can be dealt with by the court without a hearing.
In what situations will a Part 18 request be objectionable?
If the second party objects to answering a Part 18 request, or it considers that the time given to respond to the request was too short, the second party should inform the first party promptly - within the time limit stipulated in the letter. Aside from the issue of time, the Part 18 request may also be objectionable on the grounds that it is:
A Part 18 request can be a powerful tool to be used in extracting information from the other party. It may provide a more informed insight into the other party's case or exert pressure on the other party to provide a complete picture of its case. However, these benefits must be weighed against the fact that a Part 18 request may also highlight a party's line of inquiry and tactics generally. Most importantly, it may also enable the other party to improve its case.
A Part 18 request is best in circumstances where the first party knows that the second party is withholding information and this needs to be brought out into the open. In other words, the question to be asked before making a Part 18 request is whether there is any advantage to be gained from requesting information or clarification of a matter in dispute where the answer may already be known.