When defending a claim in court, a number of procedural hurdles provided by the Civil Procedure Rules have to be adhered to. Failure to conform to these rules may result in a defence failing from the outset.
Responding to receipt of a Claim Form
On receipt of a Claim Form, known as “service” signalling a plaintiff has raised on action against them, a defendant has the option of admitting the basis of the claim or defending it in whole or in part.
- A defendant who wishes to defend the claim against them, either in whole or in part, must file their defence within 14 days of receipt of service. If they are unable to file a defence within this window, they must file an acknowledgment of service, after which they have another 28 days to file their defence.
- If the defendant wishes to admit the claim alleged against them, either in whole or in part, they must file an admission.
In accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules, once an admission has been filed, the claimant obtains a right to enter judgment against them. The defendant can request a time period in which to pay the sums claimed. An admission can only be subsequently withdrawn with permission of the court.
If the defendant fails to file a defence, the claimant may be able to obtain a default judgment against them. A default judgement can be set aside if the defendant is able to successfully claim they were unaware of proceedings.
If a defendant wishes to make a counterclaim against the plaintiff, they must either file it alongside their defence or seek permission from the court if the time period for filing defences has expired. Where a counterclaim is sought against a party other than the plaintiff, they must seek leave from the court to have that party added to the case.
If the defendant believes the plaintiff’s claim filed has “no real prospect of success”, they may file for summary judgement. The test determined by the court is whether there is a chance the plaintiff’s claim would succeed, and the burden of proof rests with the defendant to show otherwise. The plaintiff must submit evidence supporting the viability of their defence no less than seven days prior to the summary judgement hearing.
The effect of a successful summary judgment is the plaintiff’s claim is struck out without proceeding to a full trial.
During the case management process, the court holds a hearing to consider the issues in dispute and whether or not the parties are better served by entering Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The court will also determine a timeline for the case to proceed and set the rules for disclosure of evidence.
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