An unfortunate and potentially expensive way for your civil claim to end is if a key legal document, known as a statement of case, is struck out by the Court. This may leave you wondering if the document was properly drafted, complied with the relevant legal rules, practice direction and any relevant Court Order and, indeed, whether the claim/defence should have been put forward at all.
The Court has a wide range of case management powers set out in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). Under CPR Part 3.4 a Court may exercise one of its powers to strike out a statement of case which will result in the striking out of the claim if:
- There are no reasonable grounds for either bringing or defending the claim;
- The case is an abuse of the Court’s process or likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings;
- There has been a failure to comply with a rule, practice direction or Order of the Court.
A statement of case is a document in which a party sets out the facts of their case. Examples are details of the claim as set out on the Claim Form or in separate Particulars of Claim which will set out the factual and legal basis of the Claimant’s case, and a Defence which will seek to set out the basis on which a claim is denied. The nature of statements of case is such that they are key documents in taking a claim or defence forward and, if struck out, the claim or defence will fail if the statement of case is struck out in its entirety.
As a party to civil litigation you are entitled to expect your solicitor to competently prepare your statement of case, advise you if the claim would be an abuse of process and ensure compliance with all relevant rules, practice directions and Orders of the Court.
When acting for a Claimant, a solicitor may fail in this respect by producing a document that has no facts or is incoherent and makes no sense. Alternatively, the document may be coherent but show no legally recognisable claim. It may also be considered vexatious, scurrilous or obviously ill-founded by the Court. In all of these circumstances the Court may exercise its power under CPR Rule 3.4 and strike out the statement of case.
A similar risk can arise when a solicitor acts for a Defendant and prepares a Defence. This document can be struck out by the Court if it sets out a bare denial or sets out no coherent statement of facts, or, the facts it sets out even if coherent would not amount in law to a defence even if true.
Furthermore, if a solicitor fails to take heed of and comply with any relevant rule, practice direction or Court Order the result may be the same in that any relevant statement of case may be struck out.
These situations may arise where the solicitor does not understand your claim/defence or the legal principles upon which it stands or may fail to comply with any relevant rule, practice direction or Court Order. This can lead to the production of an inadequate statement of case which simply invites a strike out application with potential dire consequence for you both in terms of losing the opportunity to bring or defend a claim and with a likely significant cost penalty. It could also be reflective of the fact that you may not have had a sustainable claim or defence and the entire exercise has inevitably left you out of pocket.
If you have been let down by your solicitor resulting in your claim being struck out we at Jordans Solicitors have the expertise to advise and can be contacted free on 0330 3001103 or request a call back.