CPR 18.1 provides:
(1) The court may at any time order a party to –
(a) clarify any matter which is in dispute in the proceedings; or
(b) give additional information in relation to any such matter, whether or not the matter is contained or referred to in a statement of case.
(2) Paragraph (1) is subject to any rule of law to the contrary.
(3) Where the court makes an order under paragraph (1), the party against whom it is made must –
(a) file his response; and
(b) serve it on the other parties, within the time specified by the court.
- The matter(s) upon which clarification is sought do not have to be the subject of disagreement at the time the request is made; a party may be compelled to provide information for the purposes of discovering if there is a disagreement: Harcourt v FEF Griffin  EWHC 1500 (QB).
- By asking questions at an early stage you can curtail your opponent’s case, limiting their room for evidential and legal manoeuvre. You may want to serve a Request before witness evidence is exchanged, or earlier, so that your evidence doesn’t "give the game away".
- A Reply must be endorsed by a Statement of Truth (CPR 18 PD.3); you can request that it is signed by the other party (and not on their behalf by their solicitor); this limits scope for a party to argue that the replies given were incorrect and must have been prepared by the solicitor, who was mistaken.
- It may be beneficial and afford your client some costs protection if you send an open letter justifying the Request made.
- If the other side repeatedly fails to respond to a Request(s) you may wish to make an application asking that they be compelled to respond and, if they fail to do so, that an unless order striking out the claim/defence is automatically effective.
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