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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Claimant (Litigant in person) v company lawyers Issue: billing

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Claimant (Litigant in person) v company lawyers
Issue: billing fraud
Amount of loss £100
Value of claim, No more £5,000 plus exemplary damages
Claim served, defence not yet filed.
Presently the defendants are corresponding with ‘Without Prejudice save as to costs’ letters and the Claimant, ‘Without Prejudice’ letters in hope of reaching a settlement.
For the purpose of the answering the question, we will assume that the claimant has a very strong claim, and the defendants are having difficulty producing a defence, (because the claim is true).
The defendants have only offered to return the £100 and the N1 court cost. Now I consider if the claim is found to be true against the defendants it would prove damaging to their business reputation.
As I had read that an offer of settlement can be made in any form providing it is a genuine offer to bring about a settlement thus alleviating court time. Therefore on this basis I offered a proposal that I would agree to sign a ‘non-disclosure agreement’ if the defendants would ‘offer the leaseholders the opportunity to purchase the Freehold for the same purchase price with which the landlord had acquired it for’ This offer was intended to be a possible starting point to further negotiations which would benefit the defendants, (i.e. a NDA), and the leaseholders, if enough of them choose to respond to the offer. The claimant, in a way, would be the person least to profit from such an agreement as he would forgo any court settlement.
The defendants are now reserving the right to have the claim struck out as ‘abuse of process’.
Question: What protection does the ‘Without Prejudice’ afford me in this situation? Can they disclose the offer to the court? All though it was made in good faith under privilege to seek a possible solution to a settlement would the court likely strike it out?
I’m considering writing to the defendants, (under WP), pointing out that the offer was intended to benefit them and least of all the claimant and also to formerly ‘withdraw’ the offer, in recognition that it may be viewed inappropriate.
Can you advise on what I should do?
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : Without prejudice applies to offers to settle and can not be disclosed.
Alex Watts : If they are then the judge would have to adjourn, exclude himself from the trial and award costs againat the disclosing party.
Alex Watts : Without prejudice offers can only be disclosed once liabilty is found and the issue of costs arises.
Alex Watts : So to be short without prejudice offers can't be disclosed until liability has been established
Alex Watts : Can I clairfy anything for you about this today please?

Your answer appears ambiguous. Can the contents of a ‘Without Prejudice’ letter be disclosed to the Court without the party’s permission? Even when it comes to the time of awarding costs can the losing party refer the ‘Without Prejudice’ letter to the Judge in hope of diminishing their costs?

Alex Watts :


Alex Watts :

Let me be clear. You can't disclose a without prejudice document UNTIL liability has been decided.

Alex Watts :

Once liability has been decided then without prejudice documents can be disclosed to the Court. This is because any offers etc made are protected and goes to the issue of costs

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Alex Watts :

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