What To Do If You Receive a Part 7 Claim Form?
If you have received a claim form, it means that someone (the Claimant) is suing you. If you ignore the claim form, the claimant may be able to succeed in the claim “by default”. A failure to deal with the document can result in the Claimant making an application to enter judgment in default.
If that application is processed then a judgment will be recorded against you. It is possible to try to get this set aside (reversed) but that is not without risk.
Having a judgment against you personally or against your organisation or company can lead to other applications for details about your assets, the seizing and selling of assets, bankruptcy (personal) or liquidation (company).
So your first checks should be:
- Double check that it is actually a claim form. An N1 claim form in the correct style will be on blue and white formal paper and there will be an official court stamp (seal) in the top right;
- Check that the claim correctly names you. It is possible that the claim could have been sent to you by mistake. If this is the case, you should notify the relevant county court and Claimant of the error as quickly as possible;
- There will be a “date of issue” in the top right of the form. There are time limits within which claim forms can be served – generally 4 months from the date of issue. Always note the date you received the claim form and keep the envelope it came in if there is a postmark shown on it; and
- Check what is in the claim form – does it include a ‘Particulars of Claim’ – these are concise statements of the grounds on which the Claimant’s case is based.
Now you must decide what to do. The options are:
- File an Acknowledgement of Service;
- File a Defence or a Defence and Counterclaim;
- File an Admission; or
- Do nothing.
Acknowledgement of Service
If you do not agree with the claim you must file this within 14 days. Having done so you then have an additional 14 days to prepare and file and serve your Defence.
To acknowledge service, you will need to complete and file Form N9. It is essential to get the following details right:
- Your full name;
- Your address for service (must be within England & Wales); and
- Whether you intend to defend all of the claim, part of the claim, or wish to contest jurisdiction.
Either you or your solicitor should sign the form.
Other points to consider:
- If you are in a Partnership – you must acknowledge the form in the name of the partnership, by all partners, and it must be signed by an authorised partner; or
- If you are a Registered Company – a senior member of the company, either the Director or the Chief Executive Officer, must acknowledge and sign the form.
This must be filed and served (sent to the Claimant at the address given on the Claim Form or solicitors named as instructed by the Claimant) within 14 days unless you have filed the Acknowledgement of Service in which case you have 28 days to do this.
You can agree to extend the time limit for the Defence (for up to 28 days) with the Claimant or make application to the court. If you need additional time beyond this you can ask the court for more time. The thing to be clear about is that you must not miss time limits.
The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) sets out what should be included in your Defence:
- The allegations you deny or admit, or require the Claimant to prove;
- Whether you deny an allegation; you must state reasons and put forward your own version;
- If you fail to deal with an allegation but set out in the defence the nature of your case in relation to the issues of the allegations, the allegations will need to be proved;
- Any allegations relating to amount of money claims will need to be proved; and
- If you have a Defence and Counterclaim this must form one document.
You can admit the claim in full or in part and make an offer.
You will be expected to provide details including income and expenditure. The Claimant will have 14 days to respond by notice whether he accepts the offer and proposal for payments.
The court will make decision on the rate of payment.
If you do not carry out one of those required steps, a default judgment may be entered against you.
A default judgment can only be set aside (reversed) if it satisfies one of the grounds under the CPR – if:
- the judgment has been entered prematurely;
- the judgment has been wrongly entered; or
- the case should otherwise be allowed to proceed (the court will be asked to make a decision about this).
A Judgment in Default is enforceable just as a judgment after trial. To prevent this, you should always submit your response before the required deadlines.
Our dispute resolution litigation team are always ready to advise and help with all of these issues. Contact us at email@example.com and we will be able to assist you.
This article is intended for general information only, applies to the law at the time of publication, is not specific to the facts of your case and is not intended to be a replacement for legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before relying on any of the information given. © Jonathan Lea Limited 2023.