The short answer is that it will depend on what the particular agreement requires. But there are some general principles to be drawn from recent case law.
- A notice of claim must specify that a claim is being made, not merely that it may be made in the future (Laminates Acquisitions v BTR Australia Limited  EWHC 2540 (Comm)).
- Where a notification clause requires "reasonable detail" the detail required is unlikely to be as extensive as is required to issue and serve proceedings (ROK Plc (in administration) v S Harrison Group Ltd  EWHC 270 (Comm)
- Where details of a claim are required as a condition precedent to liability, a notice of claim must specify a particular warranty or other relevant provision that has been breached (and not just the circumstances that lie behind the claim) (RWE Nukem Limited v AEA Technology PTE  EWHC 78)
- Notification requirements that are conditions precedent to liability are a species of exclusion clause and should therefore be narrowly construed. (Nobahar-Cookson & Ors v The Hut Group Ltd  EWCA Civ 128)
In Teoco UK Ltd v Aircom Jersey Ltd, (unreported) in April this year the High Court struck out the claim because the claimant buyer's attempted notification of claims relating to the tax affairs of the buyer group of companies, inter alia:
- Was not clearly a notice of claim under a particular provision of the SPA. It purported to notify a claim but did not specify that it made a claim under the particular SPA provision. Moreover it reserved the buyer's rights, rather than making a demand.
- Did not identify the particular warranty that had been breached, save in the most general terms. There was a general reference to a tax claim which could have been made either under the Tax Warranty or the Tax Covenant.
- Even in a later letter that contained detailed financial information in relation to certain claims, the buyer did not elect between a breach of warranty and a claim under the Tax Covenant.
It is noteworthy that in this, and in several other recent decisions which show how easily a buyer's right to pursue a warranty or indemnity claim can be lost, the buyer has attempted reasonably detailed notification of the circumstances that might give rise to a claim, and that a significant amount of work has gone into investigating the potential claims, and reporting them to the seller. Nevertheless the buyer appears to have failed to analyse exactly what the limitation of liability clauses required, and in particular the distinction, (well understood, of course, in an insurance context) between circumstances that might give rise to claim, and notification of a claim, correctly "anchored" to particular SPA breaches.