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In a previous article we defined some common words used in civil cases such as a cause of action, pleadings and witness statements. We continue this week with a look at more terms.

Appearance – When you are served with a claim, you also receive a form called an Appearance to Claim Form (Form 3). You are required to complete and return this document to the court within eight days of the date on which you received the claim form. The form contains a list of questions to be answered including whether you intend to defend the claim or admit the whole or any part of the claim. If you intend to defend the claim, you must also file a defence within 28 days of the service of the claim form on you.

Default Judgment – If you do not enter an appearance or file your defence to the claim within the allowed time, the claimant can take steps to have a default judgment entered against you. This means the claimant may ask the court to order payment from you of any money being claimed, including interest, without hearing further from you.

Summary Judgment – This is a procedure by which the court may decide a claim or part of a claim without a trial. After the defence is filed, either the claimant or defendant can apply to the court for judgment on the basis that the other party has no “realistic prospect of success” of the claim/ defence, part of the claim or an issue. Simply put, one party says that the other party has not made out a proper claim or defence in law based on his or her pleading. A court can give summary judgment on the whole or part of a claim or on a particular issue. This may or may not bring the entire case to an end.

Disclosure – Any document which a party intends to rely on and is relevant to the issues in the case must be identified and produced to the other side. The court directs standard disclosure or for each party to serve his or her list of documents after all pleadings (i.e. Claim Form, Statement of Case, Defence, Reply etc.) have been filed. A party may also apply for disclosure of specific documents from the other side or a third party. A party who fails to disclose documents under an order of the court may not be able to use or rely on them at the trial.

Witness Summons – This is a document issued by the court requiring a witness to attend court to give evidence or produce documents to the court at a hearing or trial.

If you receive a document pertaining to court proceedings it is usually advisable to seek legal advice on what step you should take or what you are required to do.

This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser.