Define: Want Of Amicable Demand

Want Of Amicable Demand
Want Of Amicable Demand
Quick Summary of Want Of Amicable Demand

In Louisiana law, “want of amicable demand” occurs when a defendant attempts to avoid, delay, or thwart a plaintiff’s case by refusing to participate, seeking to delay the case, or attempting to dismiss it. This behaviour is known as a defensive pleading. However, there are exceptions such as when a party objects to a court ruling and wishes to appeal it. A declinatory exception is when a party objects to the court’s jurisdiction, while a dilatory exception is when they seek to delay the case. A peremptory exception is when a defendant claims there is no legal remedy for the plaintiff’s injury or that the claim is barred by res judicata or prescription. A special exception is a specific objection to a pleading.

Full Definition Of Want Of Amicable Demand

The concept of “want of amicable demand” is a legal doctrine, primarily emerging from the principles of contract and tort law, with significant implications in civil litigation. The term itself suggests the necessity of an attempt at an amicable resolution before resorting to legal action. This principle is rooted in the idea that litigation should be a last resort, pursued only after genuine efforts to resolve disputes amicably have been exhausted. This overview will delve into the historical background, legal framework, procedural implications, and practical significance of the want of amicable demand in British law.

Historical Background

The requirement for an amicable demand before initiating legal proceedings has its roots in common law traditions. Historically, courts have favoured parties who have demonstrated a willingness to resolve disputes without resorting to litigation. This approach is consistent with the broader principles of equity and justice that underpin common law systems. In England, the courts have often encouraged alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation and arbitration, which reflect the spirit of amicable demand.

Legal Framework

Contract Law

In contract law, the concept of want of amicable demand can arise when a party seeks to enforce a contractual obligation or remedy a breach. Contracts often include clauses that require parties to engage in negotiations or mediation before initiating legal proceedings. These clauses are designed to promote amicable settlements and reduce the burden on the judicial system.

For instance, a typical mediation clause might state:

“Any dispute arising out of or in connection with this contract shall be referred to mediation in accordance with the mediation procedures of [specified mediation body]. No legal proceedings shall be initiated until the mediation process has been completed or terminated.”

Failure to adhere to such clauses can result in the court dismissing or staying the proceedings until the requirement has been fulfilled.

Tort Law

In tort law, the want of amicable demand is less formally codified but equally significant. When a tortious act occurs, such as negligence or defamation, the injured party is often encouraged to seek redress through informal means before resorting to litigation. This can involve direct communication with the offending party, letters of demand, or engaging in ADR processes.

Civil Procedure Rules (CPR)

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) in England and Wales provide a structured approach to pre-action conduct, which encapsulates the spirit of amicable demand. The CPR Pre-Action Protocols aim to ensure that parties exchange information and explore settlement options before proceedings commence. According to CPR Practice Direction – Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols:

“The court expects the parties to have exchanged sufficient information to understand each other’s position and make informed decisions about settlement and how to proceed.”

Failure to comply with pre-action protocols can lead to adverse cost consequences or the case being stayed until the requirements are met.

Procedural Implications

Letters of Demand

A letter of demand is a formal notice sent by the aggrieved party to the offending party, outlining the grievances and the remedies sought. It serves as a preliminary step before initiating legal proceedings. The letter typically includes:

  • A clear statement of the facts and issues in dispute.
  • The specific remedies or actions sought.
  • A reasonable deadline for compliance.
  • An indication of the intention to pursue legal action if the demand is not met.

Mediation and ADR

Engaging in mediation or other forms of ADR can be a crucial step in demonstrating the want of amicable demand. Mediation, in particular, provides a confidential and structured environment for parties to negotiate and potentially resolve disputes without the need for court intervention. The mediator, an impartial third party, facilitates discussions and helps parties explore mutually acceptable solutions.

Court Considerations

When a case does proceed to court, the judge will often consider whether the parties made genuine attempts to resolve the matter amicably. This consideration can influence various aspects of the proceedings, including:

  • Costs: Courts may penalise parties who have unreasonably refused to engage in ADR or failed to make a reasonable effort at an amicable resolution.
  • Case Management: Judges may stay proceedings or order parties to engage in ADR before allowing the case to proceed further.
  • Judicial Discretion: The court retains discretion to consider the conduct of the parties in relation to pre-action behaviour when making decisions on procedural matters and substantive outcomes.

Practical Significance

Encouraging Settlement

The doctrine of want of amicable demand serves to encourage settlement and reduce the adversarial nature of litigation. By promoting dialogue and negotiation, it fosters a more cooperative approach to dispute resolution, which can be less costly and time-consuming than court proceedings.

Reducing Court Burden

Amicable resolutions help alleviate the burden on the judicial system. Courts are often overloaded with cases, and encouraging parties to resolve disputes out of court can lead to a more efficient allocation of judicial resources.

Cost Efficiency

Litigation can be expensive, with costs including legal fees, court fees, and the potential for adverse cost orders. Amicable settlements can significantly reduce these costs, benefiting both parties.

Preservation of Relationships

In many cases, the parties involved in a dispute may have ongoing relationships, whether personal or professional. An amicable resolution can help preserve these relationships, which might be irreparably damaged by contentious litigation.

Case Law

Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust [2004] 1 WLR 3002

One of the landmark cases in this area is Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust. The Court of Appeal provided important guidance on the use of ADR and the implications for costs. The judgment emphasised that parties should not be penalised for refusing ADR if they have reasonable grounds for doing so. However, the court also made it clear that unreasonable refusal to engage in ADR could lead to adverse cost orders.

Lord Justice Dyson stated:

“The court should consider all the circumstances of the particular case. But the fact that one party considers that its case is very strong is not, of itself, a sufficient reason for refusing to engage in ADR.”

PGF II SA v OMFS Company 1 Limited [2013] EWCA Civ 1288

In PGF II SA v OMFS Company 1 Limited, the Court of Appeal reinforced the principles established in Halsey. The court held that silence in response to an invitation to engage in ADR could be considered unreasonable conduct and could lead to cost penalties. This case highlighted the expectation that parties should actively engage in pre-action dialogue and ADR processes.

Challenges and Criticisms

Ineffectiveness of ADR

One criticism of the emphasis on amicable demand and ADR is that it may not always be effective. In some cases, parties may engage in ADR as a mere formality without genuine intent to resolve the dispute. This can lead to delays and increased costs without achieving a settlement.

Power Imbalances

Power imbalances between parties can also affect the efficacy of amicable demand processes. For instance, a stronger party might dominate the negotiation process, leading to unfair settlements. Courts and mediators need to be vigilant in ensuring that ADR processes are fair and balanced.

Delays in Resolution

While the intent behind amicable demand is to expedite resolution, it can sometimes lead to delays. Protracted pre-action negotiations or failed mediation attempts can extend the time before a case is heard in court, potentially disadvantaging the aggrieved party.


The want of amicable demand is a fundamental principle in British civil litigation, encouraging parties to seek amicable resolutions before resorting to court action. Rooted in historical common law traditions and reinforced by modern legal frameworks, this doctrine aims to promote fairness, efficiency, and the preservation of relationships. While challenges and criticisms exist, the overarching goal is to foster a legal environment where disputes are resolved in the most amicable, cost-effective, and equitable manner possible.

By understanding and adhering to the principles of want of amicable demand, legal practitioners and parties can navigate disputes more effectively, contributing to a more just and efficient legal system. The emphasis on pre-action conduct and ADR reflects a broader trend towards reducing the adversarial nature of litigation and encouraging cooperative dispute resolution. As such, the want of amicable demand remains a cornerstone of civil justice, embodying the ethos of equity and reasonableness that underpins British law.

Want Of Amicable Demand FAQ'S

“Want of amicable demand” refers to the legal requirement for a party to make a reasonable attempt to resolve a dispute through amicable means, such as negotiation or mediation, before initiating legal action.

No, “want of amicable demand” is not mandatory in all legal cases. It depends on the jurisdiction and the specific laws governing the type of dispute. Some cases may require parties to attempt amicable resolution before filing a lawsuit, while others may not have such a requirement.

If a party fails to make an amicable demand before filing a lawsuit, the court may dismiss the case or require the party to first attempt amicable resolution. The specific consequences will vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case.

An amicable demand should be made in writing and clearly state the issues in dispute, the desired outcome, and a reasonable timeframe for the other party to respond. It is advisable to keep a record of the amicable demand and any subsequent communication.

Yes, an amicable demand can be made through email or other electronic means, as long as it meets the requirements of being in writing and clearly communicates the party’s intent to resolve the dispute amicably.

There is no specific time limit for making an amicable demand, as it will depend on the nature of the dispute and the applicable laws. However, it is generally recommended to make the demand as soon as possible after the dispute arises to demonstrate a genuine attempt at amicable resolution.

If the other party refuses to engage in amicable resolution, the party making the demand may proceed with filing a lawsuit or explore other legal options available to them. It is advisable to consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action in such situations.

Yes, an amicable demand can be made through a legal representative, such as an attorney. In fact, having legal representation can often enhance the effectiveness of the amicable demand and subsequent negotiations.

An amicable demand itself is not legally binding. It is simply a formal request to resolve a dispute amicably. However, any agreements reached through amicable resolution, such as a settlement agreement, can be legally binding if properly executed.

Yes, an amicable demand can be used as evidence in court to demonstrate that a party made a genuine attempt to resolve the dispute amicably before resorting to legal action. However, its weight as evidence will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the court’s discretion.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 7th June 2024.

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