Are you confused about the parties in a civil legal action?
In this piece, I will, hopefully, clear up any confusion.
Sounds good? Let’s go.
The Plaintiff is the party who brings an action or claim against another party. A party can be an individual or a company.
The Defendant is the party against whom the claim is made. This can be an individual, partnership, limited company.
It is vitally important that before commencing legal proceedings you ascertain the correct defendant. For example, if you have had a bad paint job done by a painter called Mick do you sue Mick, or perhaps he has been trading as a limited company.
Or maybe he is in a partnership, with a registered business name, but you have never met the partner.
Remember, if you sue Mick and his company is the correct legal person to sue, you will be wasting your time and money, and your case will be thrown out of Court.
You need to carry out a search on the Companies Registration Office website to check out the situation. The CRO has registers of limited companies and registered business names.
A Minor Plaintiff
A minor plaintiff is a plaintiff under the age of 18 years when the legal proceedings commence, and must sue through through a next friend who will normally be the mother or father.
A Person of Unsound Mind
A person of unsound mind is also known as a person under a disability. He or she needs to sue through a next friend, too.
A Minor Defendant
A minor defendant-that is, a defendant under the age of 18 years-must defend legal proceedings through a guardian ad litem, as he cannot defend in his own name. The procedures for becoming a guardian ad litem is different in the three Courts (District, Circuit, High).
If proceedings are brought by way of petition the person bringing them is the petitioner.
Sometimes there is no defendant as a person will bring an application to Court for something. This person is the Applicant.
The Respondent is the person against whom a petition or application is brought, for example in matrimonial proceedings.
If more than one defendant is sued by the Plaintiff all defendants are co-defendants.
A Notice Party
A person or body who is not a party to the proceedings, but who may be affected by an order made in proceedings, is a Notice Party. The Notice Party can enter an Appearance in the proceedings and be heard in argument court.
The Attorney General
The Attorney General represents the State and the public interest in legal proceedings and is a necessary defendant when the constitutionality of a law is called into question.
Third parties are parties joined in eh legal proceedings by the defendant if the defendant alleges the third party is responsible if the plaintiff’s action succeeds.
A concurrent wrongdoer is a party joined in the proceedings by the defendant from whom the defendant seeks a contribution or indemnity. The liability of concurrent wrongdoers is set out in section 11 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961.
Section 12 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 sets out the extent of liability of the concurrent wrongdoer. In summary, each of the wrongdoers is each liable for the whole of the damage in respect of which they are concurrent wrongdoers.
Section 27 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 sets out the procedure for claiming contribution from a concurrent wrongdoer.
Notice of Indemnity or Contribution
A notice of indemnity or contribution can be served by a defendant on one or more of the parties to the action. This includes a co-defendant or third party. No permission of the Court is necessary to serve such a notice.
Joining a Third Party
Joining a third party requires approval of the Court, although even if it is refused the defendant can bring separate legal proceedings for contribution against that intended third party. However, service of the notice seeking to join a third party to the proceedings must be served as soon as reasonably possible.
There are rules in each of the Courts for joining a third party to proceedings.
The Court has discretion, however, to refuse an order for contribution in an independent action for contribution.
Concurrent Wrongdoers in Personal Injuries Actions
Section 42 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board act 2003 applies section 22 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 in allowing claims for contributions between concurrent wrongdoers where the first concurrent wrongdoer settled with the Plaintiff.
Section 43 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board act, 2003 applies section 18 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961. This means that an order to pay against a wrongdoer will not be a bar to an action against any other person who would, if sued, have been liable as a concurrent wrongdoer.
This means that non participating respondents are treated the same way as other respondents for the purpose of Civil Liability act, 1961.