You want your day in court, but would it be worth all the rigours of a court trial when at the end of the day you fail to prove your case and you have to end up paying costs. The odds may stack up against you, but you have to make up your mind to pursue or not pursue. You must know that some matters are simple, while others are complex. If you have a lawyer he would lay out the cards based on the evidence and you would decide on your chances of success. The decision is in your hand. A simple case where you owe someone some money and where there is proof of the transaction, will be easy to decide and you need not wait for the claimant to go to court. A litigious type (loves to go to court) would pursue at all cost, even in the face of compelling evidence. The court is fairly settled in the way it conducts matters and executes the law. The judges have discretion, but they would not go outside the law. No judge would want to abuse his discretion, because he would be failing to exercise sound, reasonable judgment and legal decision-making skills.
Well, you have a chance to end the matter soon after the claim forms are served on you. You can admit the truth of the whole or part of the claimant’s claim. Even before the proceedings you can, by letter, admit to the claimant. When you receive the claim form you can make an outright admission, or depending on what you say, the claimant can conclude that you are admitting the claim. How do you as the defendant convey your admission to the claimant when claim form is served on you? The Civil Procedure Rules 2000 (CPR 2000) provides the procedure for admission depending on whether it is admission of whole or part of money claim; or for whole or part of specified sum of money; or for claim for unspecified sum of money and others. If you are served a claim for money you can resolve the matter by filing an acknowledgment of service and send your admission with it. You can admit a part of the claim for money and disclaim part for unspecified amount. The court office will enter judgment for the claimant.
The payment of a money claim would mean that you would have to pay not only the amount due to the claimant as stated in the claim form but also the interest as prescribed by statute, if the claimant claims it. You would also have to pay the fixed costs based on the rate prescribed by law up to the point of acknowledgement of service. Costs start with the beginning of proceedings. Note that if the amount is paid before proceeding starts there would be no costs. You would avoid the cost if you pay up. So don’t wait until you are served if you know that you owe money and the claimant is threatening to go to court.
A matter in court will be stayed after the defendant admits the claim with the acknowledgement of service. The case must be discontinued against the defendant. The claimant would file and serve a notice of discontinuance within seven days of payment of the money. This would inform the court of the status. If that is not done you as defendant may write to the court for payment to be recorded as satisfied.
Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law. E-mail address is: [email protected]