A Statement of Claim is a formal court document which sets out a party’s claim against you. The party making the claim is called the plaintiff. The person or company which the claim is against will be listed as the defendant. Which Court the Statement of Claim is filed in is dependent on the amount of the claim. Failure to act appropriately can have devastating effects, and it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice to ascertain your best available strategy in dealing with the statement of claim.
What are my options?
There are a couple of options available to you once you have been served with a Statement of Claim. Every case is different, and your factual circumstances will dictate your best option.
You can do nothing at all. However, this is not advisable. If you fail to respond to the statement of claim within 28 days from the date on which it is served on you, the plaintiff is entitled to make an application to have a default judgment entered against you. The plaintiff is then entitled to take enforcement action against you which could include a garnishee order against your wages, the Sheriff seizing and selling your property; you could be made bankrupt, or your company may be wound up.
You can ask for more information. This is known as a ‘request for further and better particulars’. A statement of claim should contain enough information for you to understand fully the claim being made against them. If the statement of claim does not contain enough information or detail for you to fully understand the claim being made against you, you can ask for further details. A statement of claim may make reference to a particular document relevant to the dispute. If you do not have a copy of that document, you are entitled to request a copy from the plaintiff. In any request for further and better particulars, you should include a request that the plaintiff does not take steps to enter a default judgment against you. Once you have been provided with the information as requested you can then decide on your best course of action.
You can negotiate with the plaintiff. Don’t underestimate the power of negotiation. You can try to negotiate a plan to pay by instalments or in some circumstances, to part pay the debt. If you can come to an agreement, you can request that the plaintiff formally discontinues the proceedings against you.
You can pay the amount claimed. If you do not dispute the debt, and you wish to finalise the claim you should pay the full amount as stated in the claim, including interest and legal costs. Once you have made a payment, you should file a Notice of Payment with the Court. This notifies the Court that the claim has been satisfied and the Court can then ‘stay’ (or stop) the proceedings.
You can file a defence. If you dispute the claim, either the whole of the claim or part of it, you can file a defence. A defence should be filed within 28 days from the date you are served. In essence, your defence provides your formal response to the issues raised in the Statement of Claim. It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice before filing a defence in Court proceedings.
LegalVision has a specialised litigation team who can provide you with strategic advice as well as assist you in defending any formal court proceedings. If you have been served with a statement of claim, you should act quickly.