The Importance of being the ‘Early Bird’

One of the fundamental changes brought about by the Woolf reforms at the turn of the century was a far greater emphasis on meeting deadlines in all civil claims. Whereas once cases were allowed to simply roll into the long grass, something which increased costs and the duration of cases, under the CPR cases must be run efficiently.

One of the key aims of the reforms was to provide an efficient framework for progressing cases and managing costs. The net result of the reforms was the creation of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) which now govern civil claims from beginning to end.

On the whole the CPR has greatly improved the efficiency and management of civil cases through its combination of strict deadlines and potential cost consequences of non-compliance, with one notable exception- Small Claims. The aim of the Small Claims Track is to allow claims in the value of £10,000 or under to, in theory, be brought by litigants in person, thus saving on legal costs which are often disproportionate where the sum in issue is only small.

The main challenge facing the litigant in person is the spectre of looming deadlines, the most common one being the filing of the Defence. The Defence is a fundamental part of any Defendant’s case and essentially sets out the basis for disputing the claim, but crucially there are strict deadlines for when it must be filed;

-If no Acknowledgement of Service is filed, then the Defence must be filed within 14 days of deemed service of the Claim Form.

-If an Acknowledgment of Service has been filed then the Defence must be filed within 28 days of deemed service of the Claim Form.

The deemed service date will be detailed towards the top of the Claim Form document. It is critical that the Defence is filed within the above deadlines otherwise the Claimant can request that Judgment for the full amount of the claim be entered in its favour, something which then incurs further costs to get removed (set aside).

The best advice for litigants in person is to file their Defence or obtain legal advice if necessary as soon as possible when the Claim Form arrives and not leave it to the last minute.

For further information please contact Michael Rutter  or any of the Dispute Resolution Solicitors on 0800 689 0831 or make an enquiry here.

This entry was posted in Dispute Resolution.

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