If you are in dispute with another party, and it has escalated to court, you will typically begin the process by filing a statement of claim. A statement of claim is a summary of the facts supporting your case. If you fail to set out your claim correctly, either the court or the other side can require you to re-issue your statement of claim, causing delays to hearing your case. Below, we discuss four important functions a statement of claim serves.
1. It Gets the Ball Rolling
After you or your lawyer have drafted a statement of claim, it will be filed with the court and served on the other party to the dispute. Filing a statement of claim puts the matter into the court’s systems and allows the case to be listed for a hearing later on — it starts the process of going to court. A statement of claim sets out the parties in the proceedings, for example, whether the defendant is an individual or corporation.
2. It Sets out the Details of the Dispute
A statement of claim also sets out the basis on which you are taking legal action by providing details of the dispute. These details are referred to as ‘pleadings and particulars’.
Pleadings are the facts you will be relying on to prove your case. For example, if the matter is a breach of contract, the pleadings in the statement of claim would need to state that there was a contract between the parties. Particulars are the supporting details of the pleaded facts. For example, the parties entered into a verbal agreement on 4 January 2017.
Pleadings and particulars make it clear to the court and the other party exactly what facts are going to be tested in court. They also confine the scope of the case to just those facts listed, meaning that a party will have to stick to them in arguing their case before the court.
3. It Specifies What You’re Asking For
Another important function that a statement of claim serves is to specify what remedy the plaintiff is asking for. A common type of remedy is the award of damages. The court awards damages when the plaintiff has lost money because of the defendant’s actions.
The purpose of damages is to put a party back into the position it would have been in had the other party not caused the loss. For instance, a plaintiff has lost a certain amount of money because of the defendant’s breach of the contract. A court may then award damages against the defendant to pay for that specific amount that the plaintiff lost because of the breach.
A statement of claim will always nominate the remedy the plaintiff seeks. If it for a sum of money, the plaintiff will often need to provide details to show how they calculated the amount.
4. It Gives the Other Side an Opportunity to Respond
As mentioned above, to commence legal proceedings, a statement of claim is filed with the court and served on the other party. In most circumstances, defendants will have 28 days from the date of service to respond to the claim.
A party served with a statement of claim may reply in a number of different ways. For example, it may offer to resolve the dispute before it progresses any further in the court system by providing the remedy the plaintiff seeks. Alternatively, a responding party may file a defence, in which case the matter is likely to proceed to a hearing or trial. Regardless of the anticipated response, the other party is given this opportunity to consider how it should respond.