We know that being served with proceedings can cause considerable worry. Here is some information to help you deal with that situation.
How to respond to the claim form
A 'Response Pack' will be sent with the claim form or with the Particulars of claim (if they were served separately). It contains all the forms you will need to use to reply to the claim and will ask you whether you want to:
If the claim is for a fixed amount of money (a specified amount), the response pack will contain:
If the claim is not for a fixed amount of money (an unspecified amount, usually used for personal injury claims), you will receive:
Before you complete any of the forms you should read the notes for the defendant attached
to the claim form.
What you should do next if you decide to pay
You should send or take the money to the claimant at the address shown on the claim form for payments or documents. (This might be the claimant's place of business, residence or solicitor's address) and ensure that you ask for a receipt.
The amount of money which you should pay is shown in the box on the bottom right-hand corner of the front of the claim form under 'Total amount'. The date of issue is shown on the front of the claim form and if the claimant is claiming interest, you will have to add daily interest to that amount.
The daily rate of interest will be shown in the 'particulars of claim'. You will need to multiply the daily rate of interest by the number of days between the date the claim was issued and the date you make the payment.
What happens if you are willing to pay but cannot afford to do so in one go?
You can admit that you owe the money, but inform the Court that you cannot afford to pay it all at once and ask for time to pay the monies owed You will need to Fill in Form N9A. You will be required to provide details of all income and expenses and you will be asked to explain how you would like to pay.
You should then deliver the Form N9A to the Court and the Claimant at the address shown on the claim form for payments or documents and remember to keep a copy. If the claimant accepts your offer to pay by instalments you must:
(a) Keep up instalment payments. If you do not, the claimant will be apply to apply for enforcement proceedings and your goods may be taken away and sold, or a court order may be made affecting your income or property.
(b) If your circumstances changed and you have trouble keeping up payments inform the Court immediately and the Court may be willing to adjust the level of payments that you are making without any further costs being added to the monies already owed.
If you decide to admit liability in a claim for an unspecified amount of money
If the claim is for an unspecified amount of money - that is for an amount that is not a fixed amount (a fixed amount will normally be a money claim) - you should complete Form N9C and send it to the court. This is called 'admitting liability' (responsibility) for payment. You can:
The court will send a copy of your admission form to the claimant. The Court will then send you a date when the value of the claim will be assessed prior to an order being made for you to pay the amount. In the event that you pay the sum immediately this course of action will not be necessary.
How do I prepare a Defence?
Ensure that the heading is exactly the same as that shown on the Particulars.
Then reply to each claim made against you.
e.g. 1) The claimant was driving a Ford Fiesta vehicle registration number W123 Z and the Defendant was driving a Vauxhall Y456 vehicle when the Defendant rear-ended the claimant's vehicle.
Your response might be:
(a) The Dendant admits rear-ending the Claimant
(b) The Defendant denies that he owns a Vauxhall registration No Y456 etc
Don't forget, each allegation made should be responded to.
Ensure that at the bottom of the Defence you state the following "This statement is true" and sign and date the statement.
What should you do if the Claimant owes you money or contributed to the accident.
If you are owed money by the claimant or you consider that in fact the Claimant was at fault and caused your personal injury etc, you can do so by 'making a counterclaim'. In the Counterclaim clearly state why you believe you are owed money or why you believe the Claimant contributed to the accident or caused the accident.
If you do make a counterclaim you may have to pay a Court fee. The court fee payable is based on the value of your counterclaim and in which Court the claim was issued.
The Counterclaim should be served with the Defence on the Claimant and Court within 28 days from when the proceedings were served upon you, unless, you have contacted the Claimant or their representative and have agreed an extension of time for filing the Defence (make sure that such agreement is obtained in writing) if you do this obtain an extension of time, dont forget to make a note of the new date by which you have to serve the Defence and Counterclaim.
You may be entitled to an exemption from paying Court fees and such exemption would be dependent upon your financial circumstance.
What do you need to do if you want to defend the claim because you have paid the debt, did not cause the accident, are not the correct Defendant etc
Whether the claim is for a specified or an unspecified amount, you may either:
(1) Complete the Form N9 (acknowledgment of service) or
(2) Complete the Form N9B (if the claim is for a specified amount) or Form N9D (if the claim is for an unspecified amount). By acknowledging the claim you give yourself more time in which to prepare your Defence and Counterclaim
When you complete the defence form, be sure that you follow all the instructions on it. This is important, especially if the claim is for an unspecified amount.
For example, if you do not answer all the points raised ('allegations') in the particulars of claim, it will be assumed that you admit them.
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