Civil proceedings in the District Court, or any Court, can appear confusing to the ordinary person. The District Court is the Court most people are likely to find themselves in if they are in dispute with someone else.
It might be a debt collection issue, it might be a dispute with neighbours, a personal injuries claim, etc.
It has a jurisdiction up to hear claims up to €15,000.
Let’s take a look at what’s involved.
Commencing civil proceedings
Generally, a civil proceeding must be commenced by the filing for issue and service of a claim notice.
Where are proceedings commenced?
A claim notice must be filed with and issued by the Clerk for the Court area:
(a) in which the respondent or one of the respondents ordinarily resides or carries on any profession, business or occupation,
or at the election of the claimant,
(b) in proceedings founded on contract, (except proceedings arising from an agreement under the Consumer Credit Act 1995 or the European Communities (Consumer Credit Agreements) Regulations 2010 (S.I. 281 of 2010)) in which the contract is alleged to have been made, or
(c) in proceedings founded on tort, in which the tort is alleged to have been committed, or
(d) in ejectment proceedings, in which the lands the subject of the proceedings are situated.
Filing must be effected by filing with the Clerk assigned to the Court area in person or by post.
A claim notice must contain a statement of claim.
A statement of claim must—
(a) contain, in a summary form, a statement of all material facts on which the claimant relies, but not evidence by which those facts are to be proved;
(b) contain the necessary particulars of every fact;
(c) if the claim arises by or under any enactment, identify the specific provision of the enactment that is relied on;
(d) state specifically the amount or other relief or remedy sought;
(e) state the place where and the date when the claim arose.
A statement of claim in a debt claim must state that the claim is for debt or liquidated damages, must specify the amount claimed by way of debt or liquidated damages and must include particulars of the claimant’s demand for payment.
A statement of claim must be divided into paragraphs numbered consecutively, and each fact or matter stated, so far as practicable, must be contained in a separate paragraph.
Where the claim is founded on any written document, the statement of claim must state the date of the document and the parties to the document and:
(a) if the claim is for the payment of money, the amount claimed, or
(b) if the claim is for breach of contract, the alleged breach or breaches of the contract.
A statement of claim must contain a list of all correspondence and other documents on which the claimant will rely at the trial including the date if any and a brief description of each document.
Any claim notice in which damages are claimed is assumed to include a claim for interest from the date of judgment, where permitted by law, and for the costs of the civil proceedings, whether or not expressly claimed.
Where a claimant alleges that he or she was unable, at the time at which a claim notice was issued, to include in the claim notice any of the information required by this rule to be specified in the claim notice, he or she must include in the claim notice a statement of the reasons why it is claimed that any such information could not be provided at the time of issue of the claim notice. The claimant must, when the claim notice is served or as soon as may be thereafter (whether by amendment or otherwise) provide such of the information required by this rule as was not included in the claim notice.
A claim notice is valid for service for one year after the day it is filed.
Service of documents
Order 41 deals with service of documents in civil proceedings in the District Court.
This deals with the various modes of service, service on different parties-eg a child, an individual, a partnership, a company-and substituted service, proof of service, and so on.
Appearance and defence
A respondent who intends to defend civil proceedings must give, or send by post, to the claimant or solicitor for the claimant an appearance and defence, in the Form 42.01, Schedule C, not later than 28 days after the service on him or her of the claim notice, and must at the same time file a copy of his or her appearance with the Clerk.
A defence must—
(a) contain a statement that the respondent intends to defend the claim notice; and
(b) state the name and address of the respondent and an address for service in the European Union at which documents required to be served on the respondent may be left; and
(c) if the respondent defends by a solicitor, state the name or firm and business address within the European Union of the solicitor and also, if the solicitor is an agent of another, the name or firm and business address of the principal.
An appearance and defence in a debt claim must be in Form 42.03, Schedule C. A respondent who intends to defend a debt claim must give, or send by post, to the claimant or solicitor for the claimant his or her appearance and defence not later than 28 days after the service on him or her of the claim notice, and must at the same time file a copy of his or her appearance with the Clerk.
A defence in a debt claim must state whether the claim is:
(a) disputed as to both liability and amount;
(b) disputed only as to amount and if so, what amount is admitted to be due;
(c) admitted in full and if so, whether the respondent proposes to pay immediately or requires time for payment.
Unless the respondent requires further particulars of statement of claim, a respondent to a claim other than a debt claim who contests or disputes all or part of a claimant’s claim must serve an appearance and defence in Form 42.01, Schedule C on the claimant at the address for service stated in the claim notice and must file a copy of the appearance with the Clerk.
Order 42 also deals with
- how a defence is to be drafted and what facts in the statement of claime are admitted, denied, not admitted
- change of solicitor
- notice requiring copy documents or further particulars
- stay or dismissal of claim and striking out of statement of claim or defence.
Applications by Notice of Motion
Pre trial applications by Notice of Motion must be made in accordance with the rules set out in Order 44.
What’s set out above is a general guide only and is not legal advice; contact a solicitor for legal advice.