The Civil Procedure Rules present three options for a defendant to an issued claim. They can either (1) file an admission under part 14 (2) file an acknowledgement of service under part 10 or (3) file a defence under part 15.
Admissions involve a party accepting their liability for a particular sum of money. This saves them the additional cost of proceeding through the Courts. The defendant may only wish to accept liability for some of the money that the Claimant is claiming for. The rules allow for a number of different admissions to be made and for a number of responses from the Claimant. Rule 14.2 provides rules for when and how an admission can be made. It states as follows:
(1) The period for returning an admission under rule 14.4 or for filing it under rules 14.5, 14.6 or 14.7 is –
(a) where the defendant is served with a claim form which states that particulars of claim will follow, 14 days after service of the particulars; and
(b) in any other case, 14 days after service of the claim form.
(2) Paragraph (1) is subject to the following rules–
(a) rule 6.35 (which specifies how the period for filing or returning an admission is calculated where the claim form is served out of the jurisdiction under rule 6.32 or 6.33); and
(b) rule 6.12(3) (which requires the court to specify the period for responding to the particulars of claim when it makes an order under that rule).
(3) A defendant may return an admission under rule 14.4 or file it under rules 14.5, 14.6 or 14.7 after the end of the period for returning or filing it specified in paragraph (1) if the claimant has not obtained default judgment under Part 12.
(4) If the defendant does so, this Part shall apply as if the admission had been made within that period.
In other words, the period in which to file an admission is 14 days after the service of the claim form. A defendant can return an admission after that period if the Claimant has not yet obtained default judgment.
Rule 14.5 sets out the possible admissions a defendant may wish to make:
1) This rule applies where –
(a) the only remedy which the claimant is seeking is the payment of a specified amount of money; and
(b) the defendant admits part of the claim.
(2) The defendant may admit part of the claim by filing an admission in the relevant practice form.
(3) On receipt of the admission, the court will serve a notice on the claimant requiring the return of the notice stating that–
(a) the claimant accepts the amount admitted in satisfaction of the claim;
(b) the claimant does not accept the amount admitted by the defendant and wishes the proceedings to continue; or
(c) if the defendant has requested time to pay, the claimant accepts the amount admitted in satisfaction of the claim, but not the defendant’s proposals as to payment.
So, on receipt of the admission the Claimant has the option to (a) accept the sum of the admission and stay the proceedings (b) refuse the sum of the admission and ask the proceedings to continue or (c) accept the sum of the liability but reject the proposals for payment. The Claimant must then file a notice and serve a copy on the defendant setting out the position with respect to the admissions.
Acknowledgement of Service
The defendant may buy more time to serve a defence by serving an acknowledgement of service.
CPR Part 10 paragraph 3 states:
3) A defendant may file an acknowledgment of service if –
(a) he is unable to file a defence within the period specified in rule 15.4; or
(b) he wishes to dispute the court’s jurisdiction.
The consequence of serving an acknowledgement of service can be found in paragraph 15.4 which governs the timing for the service of a defence. It states that the time to serve a defence under paragraph 15 will be:
b) if the defendant files an acknowledgment of service under Part 10, 28 days after service of the particulars of claim.
This means that the time for serving a defence will be extended to 28 days following the service of the particulars of claim, if the defendant files an acknowledgement of service.
CPR part 10 states:
1) The general rule is that the period for filing an acknowledgment of service is –
(a) where the defendant is served with a claim form which states that particulars of claim are to follow, 14 days after service of the particulars of claim.
So, the defendant has 14 days to serve either an acknowledgement of service or a defence subject to any extensions, before the Claimant can apply for default judgment.
In many cases, the defendant will want to defend the claim. If they intend to do so they will need to file a defence under part 15.
Part 15.4 provides for the time limit to file a defence. It says:
(1) The general rule is that the period for filing a defence is –
(a) 14 days after service of the particulars of claim; or
(b) if the defendant files an acknowledgment of service under Part 10, 28 days after service of the particulars of claim.
There are caveats to this general rule under paragraph 15.4 which may be relevant to specific cases. Rule 15.5 allows for the parties to agree an extension of time in which to file a defence by 28 days without having to seek the approval of the Court.
If the defendant fails to file a defence, then the Claimant may seek default judgment under paragraph 15.3. This means that the Claimant can obtain a judgement against the defendant without having to proceed through the rest of the case.
Paragraph 15.6 states that the defence should be served on every party to the claim.