Need Help With Letter Drafting?

One of our experts has compiled the following sample letter to help you become competent with letter drafting on your LPC law course.

Each section has an annotated description underneath, highlighting important information you will need to remember whilst drafting your own LPC letter:

EVERYMAN SOLICITORS

Somewhere Rise, Anytown Anyshire, AN1 3BD

Tel 01234 567890 Fax 01234 112233

Ref: PD/01932/Intro

Always include a reference providing a mutual point for all parties, ensuring clarity of the document being discussed

01/10/08

Ensure the letter is dated particularly if it is to refer to deadlines, for example for the return of information by a prescribed time.

Mr A Somebody
21 Whereabouts Close
Anytown
Anyshire
AN7 4RH

Ensure the addressee and address are correct.

Dear Sir

Letters beginning with 'Dear Sir/Madam' end in 'Yours faithfully', those referring to a name with 'Yours sincerely. Where possible try to ascertain how a female addressee prefers to be addressed, for example 'Miss', 'Mrs' or 'Ms'

Re: Road traffic Accident Claim PD/01932

Use an initial heading to identify clearly the matter being discussed in the correspondence. Complex letters can be easier to read and understand if they have sub-headings where necessary. If the letter is part of a complex case that includes many different kinds of documents care must be taken to accurately identify these documents if they are made reference to.

Following your initial meeting with Miss Somebody on 28/12/99 we would pleased to act for you in this matter.  Mr Everyman, senior partner, will primarily be responsible for handling your case. Miss Somebody, who is an experienced paralegal and who will be your first point of contact, will assist him. I would like to take this opportunity to refer you to the enclosed document titled 'Terms of Business' which I would be grateful if you would read. If you have any questions about any of the information in this letter or the enclosed documents  please contact Miss Somebody who will be happy to explain.

It is important that any requisite response is forwarded promptly. You must identify the individuals who will be handling the matter. This must be by name and an explanation as to their position. Ensure that personnel are identified accurately, for example it is both illegal and unethical to hold a person out to be a solicitor if they are not so. It is important to remember that the responsibilities of both the legal personnel and the client are set out from the outset and throughout the conduct of the matter.

Note that the client in this scenario and the paralegal handling the case share the same surname. Always ensure you are aware who the client is, such matters as conflicts of interest must always be borne in mind. Reference must be made to the terms of business of the practice.

From the particulars taken at the initial meeting the incident occurred on the 23/11/99 on Someplace Lane, Anytown, Anyshire at approximately 13.15, where another vehicle collided with the rear of your vehicle whilst you were stationary, waiting to turn out of Someplace Lane onto Anywhere Road. The vehicle was being driven by Mrs Anyone and was travelling at some speed at the time of impact. As a result of the collision your vehicle was extensively damaged to the rear and you where taken to Anytown District Infirmary where it was confirmed that you had suffered whiplash and injuries to your spine.

It is important to clarify any particulars taken at the initial meeting regarding matters that led to your services being required. This enables all parties to be clear of the details. If writing to a lay person it is important to keep the language simple and avoid using 'legalese'. Be mindful of matters that may determine what is or is not included in the letter for example, if it is going to the other party in a case, confidentiality, disclosure or tactical issues. However care should be taken not to mislead anyone and that statutory requirements are met, for example in respect of disclosure rules.

You expressed that you wished us to conduct a case for you in which you wish to sue for the value of your vehicle that has been assessed by Fixem Garages as a write-off. You also wish to sue for personal injury in respect of the injuries you sustained to your neck and spine. Having examined the information you have provided in this matter we feel that you may have grounds to do so. In order to proceed with the matter we would be grateful if you would provide us with the details of your insurance company and complete the authority to act forms enclosed, once you have read through them, and signed them where indicated.

Make clear any intentions, agreements or requirements so that all parties know exactly what their position is and what is expected of them.

Once we have received the forms from you we will be able to contact your Insurers, the Infirmary for any medical reports and we will be able to contact the police officers who attended the incident to acquire a police report. When we have this information we will be in a position to draft the appropriate documents using the information provided to commence proceedings against Mrs Anyone.

Plans for future action should be clearly set out so that the client is made aware exactly of the intentions and clear instructions provided if there are any requests for information, documents or other such items. A clear date for when these should be provided by should also be given particularly where there are deadlines to be met. If necessary or where appropriate forms of mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution should be discussed and offered if not already done so at the initial meeting.

We will, at a later date, need you to provide further details such as any time that you have had to be absent from work and/or any financial loss you have incurred. It would be advisable that you ensure that you keep any receipts for such items as prescriptions or travelling expenses so that we can include them in the case. We will assess and calculate the amount of the claim to be submitted and advise you of such in due course.

All details of intended actions should be provided so that the client is fully aware of what is to happen and they should be kept informed of any changes as promptly as possible. Both your requirements and/or proposals and those of the client must be clearly set out to ensure that all parties are aware of their obligations. Identify and explain any conditions or limitations where any third parties may be involved, for example fee sharers.

Enclosed is a comprehensive document that sets out the firm's costs and expenses that may be incurred during the time we are acting for you. The case will be conducted on a no win no fee basis but a breakdown of costing for your information will be sent to you on a regular basis for information purposes.

Fee, billing and payment method information must be provided. This can be done in the body of the letter, if the matter allows, but if the case is likely to be lengthy or complicated then clarity would suggest that it be enclosed as a separate document. Any information regarding fees or costs must be clear, itemised and available for assessment and/or scrutiny if required. Should there be any changes to costs or funding through the course of the matter this must be communicated to the client as soon as possible and again must be clear. Any liability for charges or requirements for payments during the conduct of the matter must be communicated to ensure that the client has all the costing information from the outset. Fees should also be agreed from the outset. Sometimes an exact figure may not be possible therefore a practical forecast or range should be provided. In addition, in this instance, an explanation as to the reasons should also be provided. If the client is eligible for public funding this should have been discussed and matters can be clarified in writing at this point.

You should, however, be aware that in the event that the other party wins the case you will become liable for the costs incurred by us and by the other party. The court fees and any other monies that would become chargeable are listed with the billing information. Please feel free to contact the firm should you require an assessment of these costings and we will arrange this for you.

Any financial liabilities that may affect the client must be communicated as early as possible and enquiries into whether the client has any form of protection, for example insurance, explored. The most important point is that costs are made as clear and as transparent as possible in all instances.

We will, of course, keep you informed of progress throughout the course of the matter but should you feel at any time that you are unhappy with any aspect please see the enclosed document which sets out our complaints procedure.  We would also wish to draw your attention to the options available to you should you wish to take the complaint beyond our internal procedures.

Information regarding both the in-house complaints procedure and where complaints can be progressed to must be given to the client. As with the fees information, this must be clearly laid out, and again, may be included in a separate document if necessary.

We are happy to be acting for you in this matter and wish to assure you that we will act at all time with the requisite due diligence and in your best interests. Please feel free to contact Miss Somebody on 01234 565656 for any reason.

The highlighted phrase need not be included in the letter but it is possibly the most important point to remember and failure to do so in any way can render you or the firm liable to disciplinary action being taken.

In order to ensure that the client is clear about who is dealing with the matter and how they can contact them it is prudent to reiterate the name and provide clear contact details, for example a telephone number or e-mail details.

Please sign where indicated the enclosed copy of this letter and the information sheets and complete the enclosed forms and return both as promptly as possible in order for us to proceed with matter should you wish to continue.

Finally ensure that the client is clear about any instructions included in the text of the letter and emphasise any date deadlines for instructions to be carried out by. Remember you are there to ensure that the client is guided through the legal process as well as ensuring that you do the best possible for them in the circumstances.

A client may well be confused and upset whilst undergoing the process so it is important that they are treated with respect and an appropriate amount of empathy. Even a small action shows that thought has been given to their welfare or needs and will clearly demonstrate that the firm is professional and diligent in all aspects of service.

It is prudent to enclose a copy of the letter and documents explaining cost, complaints procedure and terms of business and ask the client to sign and return them. This will ensure that should a complaint arise there is clear evidence that all the provisions of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct and accompanying requirements have been met as far as required.

Yours faithfully

Remember if a letter has begun with 'Dear Sir' it should close with 'Yours faithfully' and if it has begun with the client's name with "Yours sincerely.

E Everyman
Senior Partner
Everyman Solicitors

The signature block should contain the name and status of the senior person dealing with the matter or the person for whom you are writing the letter.

There may be times when you will be asked to sign the letter on their behalf and this should be done with a 'pp' before your signature to indicate that the signature is not theirs but another person's on behalf of the person named.