Modes of Commencement – Pleadings (Civil Litigation Practice Series)
Published on 5th June, 2019 by Mark Lee
Modes of Commencement – Pleadings
How to commence Court proceedings?
To formally commence a Court action against an individual / corporate entity, the plaintiff will have to either file a Writ of Summons (typically endorsed with a Statement of Claim (explained below)) (“WOS”) or Originating Summons in Court.
If you are represented, your solicitors will file the WOS in Court vide E-Litigation. Where you are unrepresented, you will have to file the WOS at either the Lawnet Service Bureau (located at the Supreme Court Building) or the Lawnet & Crimsonlogic Service Bureau (located at Chinatown Point).
A WOS is generally valid for 6 months. Within this 6 months, the WOS must be served personally on each defendant.
Personal service is effected by leaving a copy of the document; (a) on the defendant if he/she is an individual and (b) at the registered address of the defendant if it is a company.
Personal service must be effected by, including but not limited to, a process server of the Supreme Court, by a solicitor, etc.
Where personal service is not possible, the plaintiff may consider making an application for substituted service.
The plaintiff must convince the Court that reasonable attempts had been made at effecting personal service but such attempts have failed and that “it is impractical … to serve that document personally on that person”.
What to do if I receive a Writ of Summons?
If a defendant is served with a WOS, he has 8 days after service of the WOS (or 21 days if the WOS was served out of jurisdiction) to enter an appearance by filing a Memorandum of Appearance with the Court.
Appearance is the process by which a person against whom a suit has been commenced shows his intention to defend the suit and submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court.
Failure of the defendant to enter an appearance will entitle the plaintiff to apply for a judgment in default.
Pleadings – Timelines
A pleading is a party’s written statement of the facts on which he relies for his claim or defence, as the case may be.
Before a WOS is issued, it should be endorsed with a Statement of Claim (“SOC”) or, if the SOC is not endorsed on the WOS, with a general endorsement consisting of a concise statement of the nature of the claim made and the relief or remedy requested.
When the WOS only has a general endorsement, the SOC must be served before the expiration of 14 days after the defendant enters an appearance.
When the defendant has entered appearance, he is required to file and serve his Defence on the plaintiff 14 days after the time limited for entering an appearance, or after service of the SOC, whichever is later. A defendant may make a counterclaim in the same action brought by the plaintiff in the Defence and Counterclaim.
A plaintiff must serve on the defendant his Reply and Defence to Counterclaim, if any, within 14 days after the Defence (and Counterclaim) has been served on him.
Pleadings – Contents
(a) Material facts only;
“[E]very pleading must contain, and contain only, a statement in a summary form of the material facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim or defence, as the case may be ….”
(b) Not Evidence;
Pleadings are not meant to include evidence.
(c) Not Law;
Legal arguments are not to be found in pleadings. There is a vital distinction between pleading law, which is not permitted, and raising a point of law in a pleading, which is permitted.
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