Proceedings commence when claimant or solicitor send a claim form and relevant documents to the appropriate court to be ‘issued’. The documents are the claim form (form N1), the particulars of claim; and documents that are required to be annexed by the CPR such as a copy of any contract. The claim has been ‘brought’ for limitation purposes once the claim form is received by the Court office.
The Claim form features the most important elements of the claim. It is worth taking some time to familiarise yourself with the contents of a claim form. This will help you know immediately what information you will require in order to commence a claim. An example of a claim form can be found here.
All of the information required by the Claim Form should be collected as part of your initial consultations with your client. Often counsel will assist in drafting a claim form particularly where there is some complexity about what is being sought in the proceedings. Your claim form may contain all of the particulars of the claim. Alternatively, where the case is complex, counsel is likely to draft a ‘Particulars of Claim’ which will set out in a separate document, the precise nature of the case being brought. The precise contents of the particulars of claim should be discussed with counsel in advance of issuing proceedings to avoid problems later on.
An important element of completing the claim form will be identifying all of the relevant parties. Your instructions should make it clear to you who you need to include as defendants on a claim. For example, if someone is suing due to negligence arising out of the conduct of an employee, do you need to include their company as a separate defendant? Remember that the company employing the negligent employee will have a separate legal personality. They are also more likely to have available assets, meaning that suing an employee company may be more commercially viable than merely suing an individual. Including all of the relevant parties at the earliest possible stage will prevent the need to add and or amend the parties later on.
If you do have to add a party to a claim then this can be done by way of an application.