Responding to a statement of claim
A statement of claim is a court document that sets out how much or what the other party claims you owe them and why they are making the claim. The statement of claim starts a court case.
You are called the 'defendant', and the person who started the case against you is called the 'plaintiff'.
After a plaintiff fills out a statement of claim and files it with the court, they have to serve (give) it to you.
There are rules about how a plaintiff must properly serve a statement of claim to a defendant. For more information, see Serving a statement of claim.
If your name is wrong on the statement of claim, you should get legal advice. Do not ignore a statement of claim
Reading a statement of claim can be complicated. The plaintiff will outline what they are claiming in the 'Relief' section of the form and the reasons for the claim in the section called 'Pleadings and particulars'.
The plaintiff can include the following in their claim:
- filing and service fees
- lawyer's fees.
For more information, see What can they claim?
After you have received the statement of claim you have a number of things you can do, including:
Pay the amount claimed
If the plaintiff's claim is about money and you agree with the claim, you may:
- Negotiate with the plaintiff to try and come to an agreement about settling the matter. You may be able to agree that the statement of claim is withdrawn. This means there will be no judgment against you.
- Pay the full amount owed and notify the court by filing a document called a notice of payment. This means there will be no judgment against you and the proceedings will be stayed (stopped).
- File a form called an acknowledgment of liquidated claim, which tells the court you agree you owe the money, and then apply to pay by instalments. This means there will be a court judgment against you.
For more information, see If you agree.
Ask for more information
Sometimes a statement of claim will refer to events or documents that you don't recognise or remember. Without this information it may be hard to work out if you owe the plaintiff anything or how much you owe.
You can write to the plaintiff and ask them for more information. This is known as 'a request for further and better particulars'.
Another way you can ask for more information is by filing a notice to plead facts.
A notice to plead facts is a formal way in which you can ask for more detail about the claim. You must complete a form and file it with the court.
For more information, see Asking for more information.
You could try to negotiate with the plaintiff. The plaintiff may agree to discontinue (withdraw) the claim if you come to an agreement.
For more information, see Settling the case.
Go to external dispute resolution – consumer credit debts
If the claim is for a consumer credit debt, such as a credit card or personal loan, you have the option of external dispute resolution (EDR).
For more information about consumer credit debts, see Loans and credit cards in the Debt topic.
If you want to try EDR, the plaintiff must participate in the process. You can go to EDR at any time up until a judgment has been entered. It is a good idea to try EDR before filing a defence form.
For more information, see External dispute resolution.
File a defence
You can defend a statement of claim if you believe you don't owe all or part of the claim.
To defend the claim you must file a document called a defence. A defence confirms that you deny some or all of the claim and the reasons why. These reasons are called the grounds of your defence.
You must file the defence form at the same court where the statement of claim was filed within 28 days of being served with the statement of claim otherwise the plaintiff can apply for a default judgment against you.
For more information, see Filing a defence.
File a cross-claim
If you believe that the plaintiff owes you money or has your goods, you may be able to file a claim against the plaintiff. This is called a cross-claim.
Filing a cross-claim form can make a case more complicated and lead to higher costs. Before filing a cross-claim form, you should get legal advice.
For more information, see Filing a cross-claim.
You should not ignore a statement of claim! If you do not take action within 28 days the plaintiff may get a default judgment against you without you attending court or being notified. The default judgment can then be enforced. Having a judgment against you may also affect your credit rating.
For more information, see What if you do nothing?