CPR Part 18 is a very useful tool in the hands of a litigant to “pin down” the other side’s case where it is inadequately pleaded.

If the information given by a party about his case is unclear, a request for further information can be made under Rule 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. The request can be made:

  • by the court if the court feels the need for more information;
  • by a party. Initially, a party should make the request in writing to the other party, but, if a satisfactory reply is not forthcoming, the party aggrieved should apply to the court for an order. Failure to comply with a request by the court is a contempt punishable by fine or imprisonment.

CPR Part 18 allows one party to proceedings to obtain from another party:

  • clarification of any “matter which is in dispute” in the proceedings; and/or
  • (b)additional information in relation to any such matter.

Initially, this is to be done by making a request the other party, under PD 18, without the court’s involvement. If the party does not respond to the request, or the response is considered inadequate an application may be made to the court for an order under CPR 18.1, to give further information. The doctrine of proportionality, and the approach to statements of case generally, should mean that request further information are used with some caution. Seeking further information for tactical reasons, obtaining further explanation of matters clearly put in issue on the existing statements of case, seeking an explanation of the responding party’s legal arguments, or obtaining information that might be useful for bringing separate claims against the persons will not be allowed and properly categorised as “abusive requests” (Trader Publishing Ltd v Autotrader Com Inc (2010) EWHC 142). The new tests of “necessity” and “proportionality” in PD18, para 1.2, will mean that the current procedure is more restrictive than the old procedure for “further and better particulars”. There is no need to make a request for further information on “matters of evidence” (statements of case (ie pleadings) should deal with the facts, not evidence) is; all the information is readily available (Lexi Holdings v Pannone & Partners (2010) EWHC 1416 (Ch)).

It should be noted that under Part 18 a request can now apply to information “whether or not in the statement of case ie pleaded or not” (ie the request does not have to be limited to an issue in the statements of case). This does not stop opposing parties refusing information on the basis that “it does not relate to the pleaded case”.

If a party has not provided adequate answers to requests for information then it is sensible to supply it in a witness statement in advance of the hearing; alternatively send the replies in a letter by way of “voluntary disclosure”. If the replying party send in a witness statement at the last minute they should bear the costs of the application. Delay in answering is also important. The opposing party will usually argue that:

  • “they are not entitled to this information”;
  • it is a “classic fishing expedition”.