During the course of your claim for car accident compensation, your solicitor may receive a Part 36 offer from the other side. This is an offer to settle the claim without having to go to Court.
It’s also possible (but not as common) to make a Part 36 offer to the third party to try and get them to settle the claim earlier.
The name comes from the Civil Procedure Rules. ‘Part 36′ deals with offers made on a ‘without prejudice’ basis, which means any Part 36 offers will not be seen by the Court (if the case gets that far) until after the judgment has been made and an appropriate level of compensation awarded by the Judge.
A Part 36 offer is an offer made by either the claimant (the person making the claim) or the defendant (the person whom the claim is being made against) as a tactical step designed to convince the other party to settle the claim early without the matter having to go to Court.
This is because if you receive a Part 36 offer and you refuse the settlement amount if the Judge at trial awards less than the Part 36 offer, then you will only receive the lower amount and may have to pay some legal costs. Our After The Event (ATE) insurance policy covers any costs on your behalf in this type of situation.
A Part 36 offer can be made at any point throughout the duration of the claim but, crucially, is made without any admission of liability (i.e. without taking the blame for the accident). The offer must be accepted within 21 days; however, the party making the offer has the right to withdraw it even after the 21 days.
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Accepting A Part 36 Offer From A Defendant
If you are claiming for an injury, you may receive a Part 36 offer from the defendant, but it is more likely that it will come from their insurer. The offer will come in the form of a letter outlining the amount of money the defendant is offering.
If you believe that a Part 36 offer is enough to compensate you for your injuries and losses, you have 21 days to accept it. If you do accept the offer, you can also recover most of your costs (solicitors’ fees for example) from the other side up until that day. The benefit of accepting the offer is that you usually receive compensation much more quickly (around 14 days after the acceptance date).
However, there is a significant downside to accepting a Part 36 offer when a seemingly straightforward injury develops into something worse over time.
If you have accepted a Part 36 offer, you cannot claim more money for your injuries at a later date, which could cause you significant financial losses in the future (i.e. loss of earnings or medical costs).
When a defendant’s insurer makes a Part 36 offer, it is not only an effort to save time but also money. It is therefore likely that the amount you are offered will be less than the compensation amount you will be awarded if you reject the offer – though this is not always the case.
Rejecting A Part 36 Offer From A Defendant
If you have received a Part 36 offer and do not believe the amount is sufficient to compensate you for your injuries and losses, you can choose not to accept it and have your claim heard in Court if necessary.
The Judge hearing your case will not be told you rejected a Part 36 offer until after the claim has been settled.
If the Judge awards you a compensation amount that is higher than the amount in the Part 36 offer, then the offer will have had no effect on your claim; you will simply receive the amount that the Judge believes you to be entitled to be based on your injuries, your financial losses and costs that you will incur in the future (where relevant).
If the Judge awards you less compensation than the amount that was suggested in the Part 36 offer, then you will only be entitled to this lesser amount. The Judge might also order that you pay the defendant’s legal costs from the date of when you could have accepted the Part 36 offer (i.e. 21 days after the offer was first made).
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Making A Part 36 Offer As A Claimant
A claimant usually has little to gain from making a Part 36 offer.
However, if the defendant is delaying the settlement of the claim to an unreasonable extent or is failing to make an adequate payment, you might decide to make a Part 36 offer to them to speed up the process.
If the defendant accepts your offer, they should do so within 21 days and will then have a further 14 days to make the payment. If they do not accept your offer, you can take the claim to Court if necessary.
If you receive a Part 36 offer at any point is the claims process (they are often made soon after the accident), you face an important decision about what to do next. This decision will affect how much compensation you receive and could cost you money if you have to pay the other side’s legal costs as a result.
Our solicitors will take the time to fully explain the merits of any Part 36 offer and what they feel would be a likely outcome if you decide to reject the offer. We are in the same situation as you in that we want to make sure you receive as much compensation as possible for your injuries.