ChatGPT can be a helpful tool to assist with drafting. You provide clear instructions and context for the document you need to draft, and it will come back with some wording which may be a helpful starting point. For parties who want to launch into litigation over a dispute, the temptation can therefore be to try to start that process by using ChatGPT to prepare the letter of claim. However, that can have significant consequences.
What are the Pre-Action Protocols?
The Pre-Action Protocols are a set of procedural steps contained with the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols (‘PDPAC’). They explain the conduct and set out the steps the court would normally expect parties to take before commencing proceedings for particular types of civil claims.
What is a letter of claim?
A letter of claim, also commonly referred to as a letter before claim or a letter before action, is the first step in the PDPAC. The purpose of a letter, and the PDPAC in general, is to understand each parties’ position, try to settle the issues without proceedings and reduce the costs of resolving the dispute.
What that letter needs to contain will depend upon the nature of the dispute but, broadly, you need to be setting out the basis of the claim with a clear summary of the allegations made against the party, to include clear dates in chronological order and an overview of the facts on which your claim is based. The letter should also set out details of your losses and/or the remedy you are seeking. In most cases, the PDPAC also requires key documents to be provided with the letter before claim.
What about the penalties for not complying with the PDPAC?
The court will take into account non-compliance with the PDPAC when making orders for costs. If a judge decides that you have not provided sufficient information, actioned the relevant deadlines or acted within a reasonable period, you risk getting sanctioned. Non-compliance includes issuing a claim at court without first sending a letter of claim.
Given the importance of the letter before claim, entrusting its drafting to ChatGPT is a very risky strategy.
If I do use ChatGPT to draft a letter before action, can I ask my solicitor to sign it?
This is something we are sometimes asked and it is an understandable question, given that clients are keen to keep legal costs to a minimum wherever possible. But the simple answer is no. Solicitors have professional obligations to you and to the court which involve us understanding the basis of your claim and reviewing the documents you provide to us before acting as your solicitors and sending any legal correspondence.
How can Tozers assist?
It is imperative that you instruct a solicitor who understands your objectives and particularises your case in sufficient detail. We can provide clear legal advice which will enable you to make an informed decision about how to pursue your legal claim.
We are happy to discuss your legal problem with you in a preliminary, no-obligation phone call. Get in touch today by contacting our expert litigators.