When a claim is issued it means that at the very least a Claim Form has been sent to the Court with the appropriate court fee. A Claim Form is a Court document and is usually a N1 form as found at the following link: http://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/n1-eng.pdf ) The Court usually physically stamps the Claim Form and provides a reference number (claim number) which will forever live with the claim.
Once a claim is issued the Court produces a Notice of Issue. On the Notice of Issue the court states the date that the Claim was issued. The date of issue must be accurately recorded by the Claimant’s Solicitors because the claim should usually be served within four months.
In certain circumstances once a claim is issued, if the Claimant chooses not to serve (send) the court proceedings to the Defendant or the Defendant’s Solicitors, then a wily Defendant might apply to the court for their costs of defending the claim. Many solicitors assume that liability to pay the Defendant’s costs is only triggered upon service of the proceedings but this is not always correct. Issued court proceedings are a public document and therefore anyone can look at these documents.
If a personal injury claim has been brought on the Employers or Public Liability Portal then the issuing of proceedings will increase the costs that the Defendant (their insurers in reality) owe to the Claimant’s Solicitors, should the claim be successful.
Often it is only the issuing of proceedings that make a Defendant insurer take a claim more seriously. The Claimant’s costs usually increase significantly upon issuing of proceedings because of the court fee and the additional legal work which is required to prepare the documents. Usually if a claim is issued the insurance company representing the Defendant will appoint Solicitors to defend the claim. Defendant Solicitors are frequent more likely to take a sensible view of a personal injury or medical malpractice claim.
In a personal injury or medical negligence claim a Claimant Solicitor is only likely to issue a claim if it is, in their considered view, likely to be successful. This is because most Claimant Solicitors are acting on a No Win, No Fee agreement and therefore they have to pay the court issue fee themselves. A Claimant Solicitor is highly unlikely to issue a weak personal injury or clinical negligence claim because of the wastage of time and money.
The issuing of proceedings is a key moment in a claim. Before the claim is issued the Claimant Solicitor is largely free to call the shots. Upon issuing of proceedings the costs position changes and now the claim is essentially managed by the court.
If a Claimant Solicitor hasn’t explained what the issuing of proceedings means, then a Claimant may wish to consider changing Solicitors. An injured Claimant and their solicitor will make a more effective team if the Claimant fully understands the basic concepts.