Responding to a Statement of Claim in the Victorian Judicial System
Author: Nathan Haynes of ADC Legal
Receiving a claim against you is a stressful experience for everyone and it is important to have a clear understanding of how best to respond.
What is a Statement of Claim?
A Statement of Claim is the document used to initiate legal proceedings. It contains a summary of the key facts supporting a plaintiff’s case. A Statement of Claim will contain the following information that it is important to take note of:
- The Court in which the Claim has been filed.
- The date the claim was filed with the court.
- The material facts of that make up the plaintiff’s claim.
- The orders the Plaintiff is seeking.
It is important that you read and understand the claim against you so that you can decide on your next actions.
When you receive a Statement of Claim you have a number of options available, the most prominent of these are; attempting reach a settlement with the plaintiff prior to litigation and defending the claim.
Resolve the Dispute:
Before looking to defend the claim, it is often the best option to attempt to amicably resolve the dispute.
If you accept the whole or part of the claim, then this may involve contacting the other party to organize payment of some or all of the amount claimed in the matter. Often such a settlement will result in the imposition of an instalment plan or an agreement to pay the full amount at a later date.
It is important to seek legal advice prior to attempting to resolve the dispute on your own as communicating with the other party may do more harm then good if the conversation does not go as planned.
Defending the claim:
If you wish to dispute the claim against you, then you have 21 days after receiving a Statement of Claim to file and serve a Notice of Defence. A Notice of Defence provides an opportunity to outline the reasons you are disputing the claim against you.
A Notice of Defence must address each of the allegations made in the Statement of Claim. Each allegation must be either admitted, not admitted, or denied, with reasons being given for each denial.
Given the costs and complexities of proceeding with the defence to a claim in legal proceedings it is advisable to seek legal advice before deciding to take the matter to court.
If you have a claim against the plaintiff, you can file a Counterclaim in the same matter. A Counterclaim is not required to be related to the original claim and if the original claim is withdrawn it can continue on as its own separate claim.
A Counterclaim must be filed and served on the plaintiff no more than 21 days after the Notice of Defence.
It is important that you do not ignore a statement of claim.
If you do not file a resolve the dispute or file Notice of Defence within 21 days, then the plaintiff may seek default judgement. This is when the court makes an order without having a hearing.
This has the effect of granting the orders requested by the plaintiff without contest.
Time is of the essence:
It is important to act quickly when you receive a statement of claim, and it is important that you respond in the manner best suited to your circumstances.
Here at ADC Legal, all of our staff have expert knowledge of how best to analyse a claim and are able to provide accurate and practical advice on the most appropriate response.
To get a better understanding of the process of responding to any claims made against you please feel free to contact our team at ADC Legal Litigation Lawyers on 1300 799 820 or email them at email@example.com.
Call Us: +61 1300 799 511