The Pre-Action Protocols for professional negligence claims state that all parties should try to settle the matter privately before coming to court. As with all small claims, you will need to demonstrate you have done this before going any further. However, you should be aware that there are separate Pre-Action Protocols for construction professionals and for healthcare professionals.
As with all small claims, you should receive a letter of claim. It is likely that your organisation, if you belong to one, will carry out investigations to determine whether or not the claim has merit based on your actions concerning the matter.
The response to the Letter of Claim is called the Letter of Response or the Letter of Settlement. This is where you acknowledge liability, in the case of a meritorious claim (i.e., one where the claim is valid), and where you do not. You can provide commentary and your version of events, if you wish. You should also provide an estimation of the sum you believe the claimant is owed and supporting evidence.
At this point, you may wish to try Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In professional negligence, the Pre-Action Protocols compel you to consider ADR as an alternative to litigation. Mediation for professional negligence claims is an option, and it has often been shown to be highly successful. In construction, adjudication is also a favourable option that means you can avoid litigation and going to court.
If you decide not to pursue ADR, or try it and it does not work out, you may find yourself going to court. You may want to seek specialist legal advice before you go any further.
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