What is a Deficient Statement of Claim?

Statement of Claim Definition

A Statement of Claim is a document filed by the Plaintiff and is served on a Defendant at the commencement of a proceeding started by claim. A Statement of Claim should detail the cause of action being brought against the Defendant, the allegations, and events relevant to the Plaintiff’s case (also known as a “pleading”). If a Statement of Claim is not drafted appropriately, it may be considered deficient.

This article explores what makes a Statement of Claim deficient in the Queensland Courts and what options a Defendant may have in order to rectify this.

What to do if you receive a spurious or deficient Statement of Claim

First and foremost, we strongly recommend that an individual who has been served with a Statement of Claim to immediately contact a solicitor. This provides the solicitor with the most amount of time to assess what the next steps in the process may be in order to meet strict filing deadlines and rectify the situation as soon as possible.

Deficient Statement of Claim

A Statement of Claim may lack sufficient detail for several reasons, however, a common reason where a Statement of Claim is drafted without the aid of a lawyer. This is common as a self-represented litigant is usually unaware of the rules that surround drafting a Statement of Claim.  

As a Defendant, it can be difficult if not impossible to respond to a deficient Statement of Claim.

Although it may be difficult to draft a Defence pleading based on a deficient Statement of Claim, a Defendant should take steps to ascertain the particulars of the Plaintiff’s claim, as there is a 28-day deadline to file a Defence which can be enforced strictly by the Courts if there is a failure to respond.

Requirements per the Uniform Civil Procedures Rules 1999 (Qld) (UCPR)

Per UCPR Rule 157, a Party must include particulars (or details) necessary to:

(a)  Define the issues for, and prevent surprise at, the trial; and

(b)  Enable the opposite party to plead.

If a Statement of Claim fails to meet Rule 157, it may be considered a deficient Statement of Claim.

If a Plaintiff fails to provide sufficient particulars to accompany their pleadings, the Court may order them to provide adequate particulars. This is usually the first step to be completed upon receiving a deficient Statement of Claim and is performed by a Defendant filing a request for Further and Better Particulars.

It is significant to note, if a Defendant engages a solicitor late, the solicitor may not have enough time to explore the options with regards to seeking Further and Better Particulars as they must meet the 28-day deadline to file a Defence unless the time frame is extended.

Options When Dealing with a Deficient Statement of Claim

If a Plaintiff’s pleading does not put a Defendant on notice of the issues in dispute and the Plaintiff fails to provide Further and Better Particulars (or provides deficient Further and Better Particulars), the next step in the process may be to file for an application to strike out the Plaintiff’s pleadings.

Strike Out Application:

A Court may strike out a pleading or part of a pleading if it is satisfied that, even if the allegations in the claim could be proven, they would not establish a cause of action.

However, if an application for Strike out of pleadings is successful, it does not mean the Court has dismissed the proceedings.

Note the Courts can be more lenient towards a Plaintiff’s if they are a self-represented litigant which may include allowing the Plaintiff leave to amend their pleadings.

Summary Judgement

In order for the Court to dismiss the entire proceedings, a Defendant must apply for summary judgement per UCPR Rule 293.

An application for summary judgement is not granted easily by the Court as it must satisfy that:

(a)  The Plaintiff has no real prospects of succeeding on all or a part of the Plaintiff’s claims; and

(b)  There is no need for a trial of the claim or the part of the claim.

In order for a summary judgement application to be successful, it must meet a high threshold to have the proceedings dismissed. However, this course of action may be more effective if the Plaintiff is a self-represented litigant who has already been given a chance to amend their pleadings but continues to fail.

If you have been served with a Statement of Claim, please reach out to NB Commercial Law in order to better understand your options and determine whether a strike out or summary judgement is a viable option for an early end to proceedings.

You can claim a complimentary, obligation-free consultation here.