10.2 Contents of the Defence
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CPR Rule 16.5 specifies what must be included in a defence. Under section (1), the Defendant must state which of the allegations are denied, which he is unable to admit or deny, but wished the Claimant to prove which allegations are admitted.
If an allegation is denied, the Defendant must state their reasons for the denial and if necessary, put forward their own version of events. Subject to certain exceptions, the general rule is that if a defendant fails to deal with an allegation this is to be taken as an admission.
Under CPR Rule 16.3, if a defendant disputes the Claimant’s statement of value, he must state why he disputes it and if possible give his own statement of value.
A solicitor acting for a defendant will have to explain all of the options available in terms of responding to the claim against them. In accordance with the overriding objective, it should be pointed out to the Defendant that they should admit that which ought to be admitted, since parties are required to co-operate. Whilst the Defendant may well be reluctant to make any such admission, it must be remembered that a solicitor is under a duty not to mislead the Court.
Acknowledgement of Service
If a defendant can’t file a defence within 14 days of the service of the Particulars of Claim, he or she may file and acknowledgement of service. The Practice Direction states that a defendant wanting to acknowledge service of a claim should use form N9 and this must be filed at the issuing court.
The acknowledgment of service must set out the Defendant’s name and be signed either by the Defendant or by their legal representative. In addition, the acknowledgment of service must include an address for the service of documents. If the Defendant’s legal representative has signed the acknowledgment of service form, that address has to be the legal representative’s business address.
An acknowledgment of service can only be amended or withdrawn with the Court’s permission.
If No Defence Is Filed
If the Defendant does not file either an acknowledgement of service or a defence within the specified time limits, the Claimant may apply to the Court for default judgement. The claimant can either file a request under CPR 12.4 (1) or 12.4 (3) or apply to the Court under 12.4 (2), 12.9 and 12.10.
It is open to a defendant in certain cases to make an interim application asking the Court to set aside the default judgement.
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