Litigation Litigation is sometimes simply unavoidable. Negotiations have come and gone, and neither side has been able to reach an agreement. Thus, the first step in the complex legal proceedings is known as the pleadings.

The documents

The pleadings concern the paperwork submitted to the court in advance of the trial. There are numerous types of pleadings depending upon the nature of the case, although these four are more common than others:

The complaint

Arguably the most common document on the list, this outlines a grievance, case or complaint that a plaintiff has against a defendant. Sometimes known as a petition, they are usually broken up into separate actions (causes of action) detailing both what the defendant has done and what kind of compensation they expect to receive as a result.

The answer

This is the defendant’s written response to the complaint, usually addressing and responding to the issues laid out by the plaintiff. The defendant can also plead an affirmative defence, which points out any violation of the correct procedure that would have the case barred or thrown out, thus excusing the defendant from liability.

The counterclaim

Effectively an answer in the form of a complaint, this is where the defendant files a claim against the plaintiff as part of the same incident. These occur when neither party agrees on the cause of the incident, and both seek compensation from the other.

The summons

After a clerk reviews the complaint, it is sent to the defendant along with another document that informs them that they are being sued by the plaintiff and are expected to appear in court. This other document is the summons, and must be drafted in a very specific way that can often make it hard to understand. There are multiple types of summons depending on the type of case being laid out in the complaint.

Several other documents can be involved with the pleadings, such as amended pleadings and cross-claims, but the listed documents are the most common. Importantly they must be drafted in a very specific manner, or else risk having the case thrown out for not following procedure.

Blackhawk can help

The documents involved must be written carefully, and having proper support is essential to ensure your case is a success, whether you are defending or suing. We are specialists in this area of law; we offer expert litigation support for both commercial and civil cases, and can help you get the result you deserve.

Call us on +44 (0)20 8108 9317 to find out how we can assist, or fill out our Online Enquiry Form.