One of the things clients often say to us is: “I have heard that you should never accept the first offer and you should only accept the third offer.”
Just beware before sticking too doggedly to this popular mantra. The reason why? Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
Here’s what Part 36 says. If a Defendant makes a valid offer to settle under Part 36 and a Claimant goes on at trial to obtain an award of equal to or less than the Part 36 offer it is likely that the judge will make a costs order against the Claimant for the Defendant’s legal costs incurred up to the date of trial from a date 21 days from the date of receipt of the offer.
What effect will this have? The answer: in a small case it could decimate the damages recovered, leaving the Claimant with nothing. In a larger case it would significantly diminish the net sum actually payable.
How do you deal with this tactically?
First of all, treat every offer seriously and attempt to analyse as best you can (with the help of your personal injury lawyers) the prospects of beating the offer and the risk of not doing so. Then consider insuring against the risk if you are not already insured. Folgate Legal have access to such policies with legal expenses insurers. Lastly, don’t be too open. Whilst open litigation is to be encouraged, the disclosure prematurely of a Claimant’s partial medical evidence opens the Claimant up to risk from a specultaive Part 36 offer.
Just another potential hazard in a personal injury minefield.