What does ‘Without Prejudice’ mean?

Ruth Jewell






Ruth Jewell – Associate Solicitor

You have received a letter and it says “Without Prejudice” or “Without Prejudice Save as to Costs”, but what does that mean?

An open letter is a letter in which you set out your position in respect of the dispute. Open correspondence can be relied upon by your opponent should your dispute proceed through to Court proceedings and so it is important that your strongest position is detailed in the open correspondence. Open correspondence is basically a normal letter which you might send and/or receive.

“Without Prejudice Save as to Costs” letter is a letter which is used to negotiate a settlement of the dispute. Within this letter you are able to concede your position without your opponent being able to rely upon what you have said as this type of correspondence cannot be disclosed/relied upon until after a Judge has decided on who has won or lost the claim/their defence of the claim. Once the Judge has made a decision this correspondence can then be used to demonstrate that you have reasonably tried to settle the dispute which your opponent has unreasonably fail to engage. If an offer is made in this type of correspondence and it is not beaten by your opponent following the Judge’s ruling then this and/or the unreasonable stance of your opponent can be used to attempt to recover a higher level of your legal costs; generally only two thirds of legal costs incurred are recoverable if you are successful in a claim/defence of a claim which is decided at Court.

The final category of correspondence which is headed “Without Prejudice” is used for the purposes of negotiations but the contents of such correspondence cannot be relied on by either party at any time during Court proceedings.

If you intend to reply to either “Without Prejudice” or “Without Prejudice Save as to Costs” correspondence or any statement/point raised in that type of correspondence then you should respond using the same heading as the original letter/email.

This is only brief guidance about the meaning of the term and if you need any help with any such letters or any dispute you are involved in then please feel free to contact our Dispute Resolution team at Josiah Hincks Solicitor. Contact can be made by enquiring through our website, by email (contact emails are on our website or by telephoning 0116 255 1811.

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