You Have Been Served
Being sued may be a stressful experience, especially when it comes unexpectedly. Taking someone to court should always be the last choice after the parties have tried to address the issue between themselves.
If the claimant followed the correct procedure, you should already be aware of the claim and why you are unable to reach an agreement. You may have even attempted to reach a settlement. Nonetheless, receiving a claim form from the court can be an unpleasant experience.
Please note: if you are being sued, you should seek professional independent legal advice as soon as possible. Your local citizen’s advice bureau office can offer legal counsel. For help with unmanageable debt, you can contact debt management companies such as Pay-plan or Step-change. For emotional support, the Samaritans are always ready to take your call at any time.
Make sure you read all of the paperwork that comes with your claim form because the court will give you numerous documents that will outline what you need to do and when you need to do it.
The Formal Response Deadline
You have 14 days from the date of deemed service to file your defence in court and serve a copy on the opposite party. Deemed service occurs on the second day after the claim form is posted by the court. The date on the court papers you receive may be specified. To guarantee that you don’t miss the deadline, call the court for confirmation of the date.
Extending The Deadline
If you need longer than 14 days to complete the defence, you can file at court the acknowledgment of service form, which gives you 28 days instead of 14 days. The acknowledgment of service form should be one of the forms you receive with the claim form.
Filing A Defence
When preparing a defence, you should take it seriously and devote the time it requires. The rules for filing a defence are set out in CPR 16.5
When preparing your answer to the claim, go over all of the issues and allegations in the claim form and particulars of claim, deciding which you agree with, which you can’t respond to (for example, because you don’t know if it’s accurate or not), and which you disagree with. If you disagree, you must explain why.
There is a typical defence form included with the claim form, however, if you need more room, continuation sheets can be used. Just make sure that each document has the claim number on it in case it gets misplaced.
Filing A Counterclaim
If you intend to file a counterclaim, you must include the information in the defence document, as well as a separate section stating that a counterclaim is being filed and what the charges are.
You must pay the court fee if you file a counterclaim, just as you would if you filed a claim in small claims court. The charge is determined based on the amount of the counterclaim.