Step 6: Defending Your Position
Primary Content Source: A Guide to Representing Yourself in Court - The Bar Council
If a claim has been issued and served on you, you can either accept the claim against you (admitting that the claim is true, which might mean that you accept you have to compensate the person bringing it) or defend all or part of it. If you wish to defend all or part of the claim you must file a ‘defence’. A defence is a document that sets out why you say you are not liable or not at fault when the claimant has stated that you are.
If you fail to file a defence within 14 days of receiving the claim form, or within 28 days if you have filed an acknowledgement of service, the claimant can ask the judge to accept their claim automatically, because you have not denied it within the timeframe. That may have serious consequences for you, so you should respond as soon as you can if someone makes a claim against you.
If you wish to defend the claim you should include the following points in your defence:
Which of the allegations set out in the claim form or Particulars of Claim you deny, and why
Which of the allegations you can neither admit nor deny (perhaps because you cannot remember exactly what happened and the claimant has not provided enough information for you to be sure), and require the claimant to prove
Which allegations you admit to
A statement of your version of events
If you believe that you are entitled to money which you say the claimant owes you, as part of your defence, you should say how much you believe you are entitled to, and
A Statement of Truth (“I believe that the facts stated in this defence form are true”).
Now that you know what is involved in preparing and issuing a claim or defence, the next step will be going to court, which we deal with in Section 3. Remember, it is never too late to resolve the issue out of court, even if the formal claim process has started.