What should a letter of claim for a construction or engineering dispute contain?

The Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes sets out details as to what a letter of claim for a construction or an engineering dispute should contain.  

The Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes applies to all construction and engineering disputes, including professional negligence claims against architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. However, a Claimant is not required to comply with the Protocol in the following circumstances: 

  • Where Court proceedings are for the enforcement of the decision of an adjudicator to whom a dispute has been referred pursuant to section 108 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996;
  • Where Court proceedings include a claim for an interim injunction;
  • Where the Claimant seeks summary judgment pursuant to Part 24 of the Civil Procedure Rules; or
  • Where the dispute relates to the same or substantially the same issues as have been the subject of a recent adjudication under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, or some other formal alternative dispute resolution procedure. 

A Claimant is allowed to commence Court proceedings without complying with the Protocol if, by reason of complying with it, their claim may be time-barred. In such circumstances the Claimant should apply to the Court for directions when he asks the Court to issue proceedings. The Court may in such cases order a stay of the proceedings to enable the parties to comply with the Protocol.

What are the requirements of the Protocol?

The letter of claim should be sent to each proposed Defendant (where appropriate it should be sent to his registered office) and should contain the following information:

Information about the Claimant

The letter of claim should state the full name and address of the Claimant.

Information about the proposed Defendants

The letter of claim should state the full name and address of each proposed Defendant.

The facts

The letter of claim should contain a clear summary of the facts on which the claim, or each claim, is based.

The basis of the claim

The letter of claim should explain the basis of the claim, or each claim. This should be done by identifying the main contractual terms and statutory provisions relied on.

The remedies sought

The letter of claim should state what remedies are sought by the Claimant.  

If damages are claimed it should contain a breakdown showing how the damages have been calculated.  

If a sum if claimed pursuant to a provision in a contract, the letter of claim should explain how that sum has been calculated.  

If an extension of time is claimed the letter of claim should state the period claimed.

Claims made previously and rejected by a Defendant

If a claim has been made previously and rejected by a Defendant, and the Claimant is able to identify the reason or reasons for such rejection, the Claimant should state his grounds of belief as to why the claim was wrongly rejected by the Defendant.

Expert evidence

The letter of claim should state the names of any experts already instructed by the Claimant on whose evidence he intends to rely. Where experts have already been instructed the Claimant should identify the issues to which that evidence will be directed.