A statement of claim is the initial document, filed with a Court by a party making a claim (the Plaintiff) against another party (the Defendant) to commence court proceedings.
Most commonly, statements of claim are served in person unless the claim is against a company – in which case it is served at the registered address of the company.
If you have been served with a claim, you need to act promptly. If you do not file and serve a Notice of Appearance or Defence within the strict timeframe, the Plaintiff may obtain a judgement in default against you.
Date of Service
Generally, the clock starts ticking immediately upon service of the documents, it is critical to take note of the date you were served the documents. Most commonly, in the Supreme and County Courts of Victoria, you have 10 days from the date of service in which to file a Notice of Appearance.
Do not Ignore the Statement of Claim
This is where a lot of people come unstuck. Even if you agree with the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim, ignoring the claim will make it worse.
Once you are served with a Statement of Claim, your first steps should be to seek legal advice as there are strict rules surrounding defence preparation and what should be contained in a counterclaim.
You may be able to negotiate a settlement with the Plaintiff and possibly pay a reduced amount to settle the matter without any further expense for both you and the other party.
|Critical timelines to adhere to upon receiving a statement of claim|
Notice of Defence/Notice of Defence and Counterclaim
Magistrates Court of Victoria
File a defence or counterclaim 21 days from date of service of complaint/statement of claim
County and Supreme Courts of Victoria
1. File a Notice of Appearance 10 days from date of service of writ/statement of claim
2. File a Notice of Defence or Counterclaim 30 days from date of filing Notice of Appearance
Time is of the essence! If you are served with a statement of claim, do not stick your head in the sand. Before you try and file a defence or respond, you should obtain legal advice urgently.
The Courts have very specific rules and rigid timelines with which to work in and it is easy to trip up and receive a judgment against you. TNS Lawyers have specialised litigation skills to assist in all aspects of the Court process.
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