Statutory timeframes and the significance of complying
Once civil proceedings are commenced, the law sets out time periods within which certain actions must be taken. If parties do not comply with these time periods, the defaulting party risks the matter being struck out or judgment entered against that party.
The Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld) (“the UCPR“) sets out the rules within which parties need to comply when proceedings are started in the Magistrates, District or Supreme Courts of Queensland.
Most civil proceedings are commenced by way of Claim and Statement of Claim, where this procedure is discussed below. The other way to commence civil proceedings is by way of originating application, which has a different procedure to proceedings commenced by Claim and Statement of Claim (see the rules prescribed by the UCPR in respect of originating applications).
The following procedure applies to civil proceedings commenced by Claim and Statement of Claim:
- A Claim and Statement of Claim in the prescribed forms by the relevant Court is to be filed by a party within the limitation period for the type of action (see the blog article “Limitation Periods – the importance of ensuring your within time” for a discussion about limitation periods). The party filing this document is called the Plaintiff.
- Once a Claim and Statement of Claim is filed in the Court, the Plaintiff is required to serve this document on the party who the Claim is instituted against. This party is called the Defendant. Once the Claim and Statement of Claim is served on the Defendant, the Defendant has a period of 28 days from the date of service to file a Notice of Intention to Defend and Defence in the prescribed forms by the relevant Court. A Notice of Intention to Defend and Defence notifies the Court and the Plaintiff that the Defendant wishes to contest the matter and sets out the grounds of the defence. If the Defendant does not file any Notice of Intention to Defend and Defence, the Plaintiff may apply to obtain default judgment against the Defendant.
- Following the filing and service of the Notice of Intention to Defend and Defence on the Plaintiff, the Plaintiff has 14 days from the date of service within which to file a Reply in the prescribed forms by the relevant Court. This pleading responds to any new matters raised in the Defence.
Given the consequences of failing to comply with the prescribed time limits in civil proceedings, it is important to seek legal advice if you are seeking to commence a proceeding, or proceedings have been instituted against you. If you wish to have a confidential discussion with us regarding a civil dispute that you wish to litigate or if a Claim and Statement of Claim has been served on you, please contact us on 1800 683 928 to discuss.