Reasonable time to respond

We disagreed with a customer who told us of a fault with a vehicle for which she said we were liable.  Following some emails, she sent us a letter stating her intention to take us to court if we did not provide a satisfactory response within 30 days.  Just over two weeks later we offered to collect the car from her chosen garage but she informed us she had already instructed them to repair it and expected us to cover the cost.  As we had responded within her given time frame of 30 days will this go against her in court?

Before commencing proceedings in the Small Claims Court, the Civil Procedure Rules require that the parties exchange sufficient information to understand each other’s position.  You told her prior to her letter before action you didn’t accept liability which was your position.  Her next step was to instigate proceedings.  The CPR considers 14 days to be a ‘reasonable’ time for a defendant to respond in a straightforward case.  She asked you to respond within thirty days and in the event did not wait that time to receive your response.  The court will take into account non-compliance when giving directions for the management of proceedings.  The court will consider whether all parties have complied with pre-action conduct requirements and is not likely to be concerned with minor or technical infringements.  However, if the court does decide there has been a failure of compliance by either party they can apply sanctions which may include an award at a lower rate than would otherwise for example.  


Authors: Polly Davies

Published: 20 Apr 2019


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