First steps in civil proceedings
Having an understanding of the following fundamental activities and concepts might help you take your initial steps in the case you either wish to commence, or oppose.
You have the option of undertaking these initial steps by filing the documents online, or by attending the Court's registry, or posting the documents to the Court. You can find details of the registry's location, opening hours and postal address in Contact Us.
Selecting the right document to start a new case
You start your case by filing a summons, statement of claim or, for some cases about companies, an originating process. UCPR 6.3, UCPR 6.4 and Rule 2.2 of Supreme Court (Corporations) Rules 1999 outline the information you must include about your claim. It is important to use the correct document. If you use the incorrect document you will have to amend it and that could mean you have to pay additional filing fees and any costs your opponent has wasted because of your mistake.
Serving the document you have filed
"Service" is the formal process of giving or sending a document to another party in a case. Most of the relevant rules regarding service are in UCPR Part 10.
If you commence proceedings, you will be required to serve a copy of the statement of claim, summons or originating process on all the defendants. Summonses must be served at least 5 days before the matter is listed. There are specific rules in the UCPR as to how to serve individuals as well as companies and government organisations.
Any other documents that you file will also need to be served. These documents can be served by sending them to the address for service nominated by the other party. If they have nominated an email address they can be emailed.
Filing documents does not mean that they will become evidence in your case. The evidence will be received at the hearing before the Registrar or Judge.
You must also provide an address at which documents can be served on you, as well as other contact details including your email address, so that other parties and the Court can communicate with you.
Defending a Statement of Claim served upon you
If you are served with a statement of claim, the Rules require you to file a defence. The Rules deal with the information that you have to provide about your defence. Time limits apply to when a defence must be filed.
The approved form you must complete when defending a claim without a legal reprsentative is UCPR form 7B. It is important that you provide your contact details on this document, including your phone number and email address. Please keep this information up to date so that the Court and other parties can contact you.
If you need more details about the claim being made against you, you can ask the plaintiff for more information. You may also be asked by the plaintiff to provide more details about your defence.
Entering an Appearance in response to a Summons served upon you
If a party has started a case against you, you must let them and the Court know if you wish to defend the claim. You can do this by filing a notice of appearance (UCPR forms 6A or 6B) or by filing a defence. If you do not enter an appearance or do not attend at Court on the day your case is scheduled, the Court may make a binding decision, including a costs order, against you in your absence.