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In most legal matters, there will be a need for documentary evidence of some description, which it is the duty of all parties to provide. Disclosure is the standard legal term for providing the other party with evidence in support of your case, but can also include anything that is relevant, even if it does not support your case. In other words, Disclosure is quite simply that: Disclosing information to the parties in the case which will assist them and if necessary, the Court, to make a decision on how to conclude the case. MG Legal, your personal injury solicitor in Lancaster, handle a variety of cases, however, the type of case where Disclosure is often key is that of Personal Injury cases. 

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What do I need to Disclose? 

Anything that is relevant to your case and that you will want to use to support your claim, so in a Personal Injury case for the Claimant this will always include a medical report. If lost earnings are being claimed, you would be expected to Disclose wage slips to show what your income was prior to an incident and how they fell as a result of it. Vehicle damage is usually evidenced by an Engineer’s Report or in the case of lesser damage, a repair invoice from a body shop. 

Is Disclosure limited to the Claimant in personal injury cases? 

No, the Defendant is also required to Disclose relevant documents which will assist in their Defence but also in deciding the case. If the Defendant disputes the severity of a Road Traffic Accident they may produce a repair invoice showing the damage to their car was minor. Disclosure from the Defendant is particularly important in many slipping and tripping cases where a Defence is often based around the Defendant, whether a local Council, supermarket or other public venue, showing that they have done all that is reasonable expected of them in terms of inspection and maintenance or cleaning. 

Is Disclosure selective by both parties? 

Part 31 of the Civil Procedure Rules, which govern all Civil Cases including Personal Injury cases, state that parties should “make a reasonable search” for documents which “affect the case” and which are or have been “within their control”. This is, therefore, an obligation to Disclose both favourable and unfavourable documents that they have or still hold. So, if a Defendant, say, a supermarket, has a big gap in their cleaning schedule around the time of a slipping incident, they must still Disclose the schedule. 

How does Disclosure happen? 

Disclosure usually occurs in two ways, ongoing Disclosure, which occurs both before and after issue of Proceedings in the County Court and Standard Disclosure which occurs once in the early stages of Court Proceedings. Ongoing disclosure is a duty which applies to both parties and obliges them to provide to their opponent copies of any relevant documents as soon as they know they exist. Standard Disclosure is done by way of a Court Form, N265, List of Documents. At that stage, parties are expected to carry out the previously mentioned “reasonable search” which usually extends to the parties home address or office and that of their solicitors, the latter being a search of the file to see what documents are held. The Form N265 is then sent to the opponent who can request copies of any documents they wish to see and if necessary, they can attend to view the original copy. 
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Can Disclosure be forced or compelled? 

Disclosure can also occur a third way; it can be compelled and whilst most parties do provide full Disclosure voluntarily, there can be disagreements about what is relevant. A party might ask for a larger sample of accident figures or training records, or it might be disputed that certain documents are relevant. In this instance, the party who wishes to see the documents can ask the Court to compel disclosure. The Court would hear both sides arguments and then decide if the Disclosure is relevant or not, before making an Order appropriately. MG Legal, your personal injury solicitor in Lancaster, will often insist on certain items being included in Disclosure, known as Specific Disclosure, as we are well aware of the tactics used by Defendants to paint the most favourable view of their practices being safe and it is often in the detail that many cases are won. 

Can documents be destroyed or hidden from Disclosure? 

All Legal processes are based on a principle of parties being open and honest with each other and to the Court, even when the disagree about a case. Should a party destroy or hide a document and it later emerge that this has been done, it will cast a highly negative light on that party and in some cases could lead to an Order that the claim is struck out. In Personal Injury cases, the Claimant is protected by Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS) which acts like an insurance policy and prevents the Defendant pursuing them for their costs at the end of a case if the Claimant does not succeed. If a claim fails due to “Fundamental Dishonesty”, which would most certainly include hiding or destroying documents, QOCS protection can be removed and the Defendant would then be allowed to pursue the Claimant for their costs. Put simply, this is a risk not worth taking. 

What does not have to be disclosed? 

Certain documents are protected by “privilege” which are usually those between a client and their solicitor, anything marked “without prejudice” and file notes or exchanges documented between barristers or other such representatives which are deemed to fall within the same scope. 

What do I do if I have a personal injury claim? 

Contact MG Legal, your personal injury solicitor in Lancaster, to speak to one of our Personal Injury team. We will discuss your claim with you, advise you on what documents to retain and to provide to us and we will, of course, ensure that the fault party provides all the documentation needed to give your claim the best chance of success. We aim to accept all Personal Injury claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) to ensure that you have access to the legal representation you deserve. Get in touch with MG Legal, your personal injury solicitor in Lancaster by phone, email, web-contact form or by dropping into one of our offices in Lancaster, Garstang or Longridge and we will put you in touch with the right person to get your claim started the same day. 
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For a free, no-obligation consultation with a personal injury solicitor, contact us online here. Or give us a call on 01772 783314 
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