Understanding the Law
June 24, 2011
What your Lawyer does after he or she is retained

You have a legal problem and you visit your lawyer. Yes, he may charge you for consultation, because you are using his time. However, that consultation fee might be combined with the overall fees that he charges if he takes your case. In that consultation, he would examine the information you give him, and he would let you know whether you have a case or not.{{more}} The lawyer would put your information together to initiate a claim. If someone else brought a claim against you, then it would be essentially handing the documents that have been served on you to your lawyer. We are, therefore, looking at two scenarios, initiating a claim and answering to a claim under CPR 2000. There are other laws for initiating matters that do not come under CPR 2000, for example, the Matrimonial Causes Act governs the procedure relating to divorce.

Understanding claim forms

When a claim is made against your adversary in the civil court, it is done on a standard form known as a claim form. There are two types of claims, an ordinary claim and a fixed date claim. The information to identify the case is common to both forms, and it is given at the top of the page. The names of the parties are given and identified as “Claimant” or “Defendant” with their addresses.

Ordinary claim form

The lawyer is required to draft your claim by stating your specific amount or the remedy that you are claiming. If you are claiming a specific amount of money, then it must show the amount of money, the court fees, the legal practitioner’s fixed costs on issue which would be in accordance with the amount of money claimed and given by law. Any interest, which would have accrued, would also be given and a total arrived at.

Notice to the Defendant

Very important to the claim form is the notice to the Defendant. It gives instructions as to what the Defendant should do on receipt of the documents. It indicates the importance of the Acknowledgment of service that is served with the claim form and informs you as to the time allowed for return of this document to the court office. The time is 14 days for claims within the jurisdiction and 21 days for outside. This has to be done if you intend to defend your claim. It warns that judgment would be brought against you, in other words the claimant would get what he is claiming for, if the Acknowledgment of service is not returned to the Court office in the specific time. It does not leave anything to chance because information as to the location of the court and the time when it is opened are given. There is only one High Court Office in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and it is located in the Corea’s Building in Kingstown. It is open on weekdays from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. Its telephone numbers are 4512944 and 4512945.

Further instructions

The notice further tells the defendant that he or she may seek the assistance of a legal practitioner/ lawyer if so desired. A full document captioned “Notes to the Defendant” is served and informs him or her about what could be done in. My next article I will continue this topic. Have a good week.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com