COURT PAPERS JUST DELIVERED TO YOUR OFFICE?
If you have received a Statement of Claim, Summons, Originating Process or Writ, be aware that you must act very quickly.
Replying to the person, entity or firm that issued the Court/Tribunal papers is not enough. Formal steps to file an Appearance, Defence, Notice of Intention to Defend or Reply must be taken within the relevant time.
The proper form of response varies depending on which court and in which jurisdiction the proceedings have been commenced as they each have different Rules and Regulations that apply.
Generally, a Defendant, Respondent etc will have only 28 days or such other period as may be specified in the document in which to file the appropriate response. Failure to do so in time or at all will leave the recipient open to summary or default judgment (automatic judgment against you without a hearing).
Failure to file and serve the appropriate document in response in time can have dire consequences.
A judgment can affect credit ratings, the ability to seek finance in the future and is a precursor to enforcement actions such as bankruptcy litigation, liquidation and winding up of companies, garnishee orders, writs of possession, visits from the Sheriff, notices for examination etc!
Default judgments can often be set aside, but this comes at a cost and immediately puts you on the back foot. In litigation, it is best to stay ahead of the game and be pro-active.
Most court documents are required to be served personally however, companies can be served by post at their registered office. Documents commencing proceedings for small claims (claims under $10,000) can be served by post by the court.
If a court document is served, steps should be taken to immediately seek advice from (rather than leaving it to the last few days).
McKillop Legal can assist in various ways such as:
- seeking more details of the claim from the lawyers for the party commencing the claim,
- filing and serving the appropriate document to prevent default judgment,
- advising on the claim and its prospects of success,
- filing any defence document
- preparing your evidence,
- attempting to resolve the matter prior to any hearing, and/or
- if necessary, running the hearing with a barrister.
Craig Pryor is principal solicitor at McKillop Legal. For further information in relation to litigation and dispute resolution or any commercial law matter, contact Craig Pryor on (02) 9521 2455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.