10.1 Responding to a Claim
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A defendant need only respond to a claim once the Particulars of Claim have been served. This may be at the same time as the claim form can be at any point up to 14 days of the service of the claim form. Under CPR 9.2, once the Particulars of Claim have been received, the Defendant has 14 days from the date of service to do one of the following:
(a) file or serve an admission in accordance with Part 14;
(b) file a defence in accordance with Part 15
(or do both, if he admits only part of the claim); or
(c) file an acknowledgment of service in accordance with Part 10.
Filing An Admission
Under Part 14, a party may admit the whole or merely part of the case against them. Any partial admission will also require the filing of a defence in relation to the defended portion of the claim. Admissions can be made using forms N9A and N9C.
Once an admission has been made, the Defendant may either pay the sum requested or ask for time to pay - i.e. to make payments in instalments. If a defendant requests time to pay, they must detail their financial position on the form. The claimant may object to payment by instalment and if so, it will be up to the Court to resolve the matter, including setting the amount of the instalments.
Filing A Defence
CPR Rule 15 covers the filing of a defence and states that a copy of the defence must be served on every other party. Under CPR 15.2, a defence must be filed by any defendant intending to defend all or part of a claim.
Under CR 15.3, if a defendant fails to file a defence, the Claimant may ask the Court for default judgment.
CPR 15.4 specifies the period for filing a defence:
(1) the general rule is that the period for filing a defence is:
(a) 14 days after service of the particulars of claim; or
(b) if the Defendant files an acknowledgment of service under Part 10, 28 days after service of the particulars of claim.
(2) The general rule is subject to the following rules:
(a) rule 6.35 (which specifies how the period for filing a defence is calculated where the claim form is served out of the jurisdiction under rule 6.32 or 6.33);
(b) rule 11 (which provides that, where the Defendant makes an application disputing the Court's jurisdiction, the Defendant need not file a defence before the hearing);
(c) rule 24.4(2) (which provides that, if the Claimant applies for summary judgment before the Defendant has filed a defence, the Defendant need not file a defence before the summary judgment hearing); and
(d) rule 6.12(3) (which requires the Court to specify the period for responding to the particulars of claim when it makes an order under that rule).
Under CPR Rule 15.5, the parties may agree to extend the period for filing a defence by up to 28 days. If such an agreement is reached, the Defendant must notify the Court in writing.