Disclosure and inspection
When a claim is issued, the claimant is expected to have documentary evidence of the debt. If you were to issue a claim, you would be expected to provide proof that there was a contract between you and the person you are suing in the first place, that you provided them with goods or services or lent them the money under that contract, and that the amount is still outstanding. You’d be expected to have invoices, emails, letters, etc. even in the absence of a written contract. You’d also be expected to show that you attempted to recover the money before issuing a claim, for example, by sending reminders followed by a letter before action.InfoWhere the agreement is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, there are some additional requirements to comply with. Regulated agreements should be in writing and contain a number of prescribed terms and a default notice should be issued before the account can be terminated and the full amount can be demanded. See Consumer Credit Act.
In view of the above, it would be reasonable to expect a creditor to supply the documents they are relying on when making a claim, however, as stated on Paragraph 5.2A of the PD 7E – Moneyclaim Online, when a claim is issued electronically using an online form, there is no requirement to attach documents to the claim.
Creditors take full advantage of this provision and, more often than not, do not even avail themselves of the documents before issuing a claim; they often expect an uncontested claim, either default judgment when a defendant fails to respond or an admission.
Part 31 of the CPR deals with disclosure. 31.2 defines the meaning of disclosure.
If a party (either the claimant or yourself, the defendant) mentions a document in a statement of case (such as the particulars of the claim or your defence), he/she is “disclosing” the document in question.
CPR 31.4 defines what constitutes a document.
CPR 31.3 refers to the right to inspect (view) a disclosed document.
So if the claimant has disclosed (mentioned) a document such as “a credit agreement regulated by the Consumer Credit Act” or a “telecommunications contract”, you have the right to inspect (view) that document.
CPR 31.14 gives you the right to inspect any documents referred to in the particulars of claim which are the claimant’s statement of case.
You can send the claimant or their legal representatives a request for documents mentioned in the particulars of claim using CPR31.14, see requesting documents.
CPR 31.15 makes it clear that they must allow you to inspect the documents no later than 7 days after receiving your request. In most cases, “inspection” will be by obtaining a copy of the document as per 31.15(c)TIPIt may be worth reminding them of CPR 31.21 which states that a party can’t rely on a document he fails to disclose or permit inspection of.
The Expandable v Rubin case discussed the subject of disclosure and inspection at length:
The duty of the claimant to supply documents does not end with allocation to small claims, CPR 27.4(3)(a)(1) states that, after allocation, the court will give standard directions for each party to provide the other party with copies of all documents relied on.
Similar duties apply to defendants; you have a duty to disclose and allow inspection of any documents you mention in your defence.
If you are defending in the fast track, you should disclose your documents in a prescribed manner, as set out under PD 31A Disclosure and Inspection.
Paragraph 2A.1 refers to disclosure of electronic documents. You’ll probably have a number of those, including letters you drafted and sent yourself as well as emails.