I have just been served with Court documents where I am listed as the Defendant – do I need a lawyer?
Welcome to “Do I need a lawyer?”. This is where we dissect various instances where you might require legal advice and how the team at DSA Law can help in such instances.
You’ve just been served with Court documents. They might allege you owe money or require you to attend Court on a specific date. Do you need a lawyer?
DO NOT PANIC.
If you have been listed as a Defendant (sometimes referred to as the Respondent), the proceeding is a civil one, meaning there is no immediate risk of criminal charges.
At first reading, there are three simple things you should take note of:
- Who is the Plaintiff (sometimes listed as the Applicant);
- What do they claim; and
- What do you need to do and by when
While most Court applications seem scary at first, reading the document carefully will outline what you as the Defendant need to do next and by what date.
Do I need a lawyer?
Generally speaking, yes. However, in some limited circumstances, you may not need a lawyer.
If you do not dispute their claim, you should contact the Plaintiff and/or their lawyer and make an offer to pay the amount sought. It is vital that before making such an offer, you expressly state that it is made “Without Prejudice”. Basically, this means it cannot be disclosed to the Court until the proceeding is finalised.
If the Plaintiff does not accept, they may object to the amount offered or the timing of any payments, then it might be worth engaging a lawyer to negotiate the settlement.
Why do I need a lawyer?
Litigation can be complicated. Each forum has its own rules and regulations which need to be adhered to and on which the balance of a matter can seemingly turn, even if you are in the legal right.
If you dispute their claim and hope to contest it, we suggest engaging a lawyer to do so on your behalf. Not only will they be able to navigate the complex legal structures but also provide you with advice as to any potential defences and liabilities.
Where can I get help?
Here at DSA Law, our lawyers have a wealth of litigation experience across a vast array of legal fields. We will assess your legal position and provide timely cost-effective advice on how to proceed. Even prima facie hopeless cases can be dealt with in a manner which brings the proceedings to an end and is cost-effective. DSA can negotiate on your behalf and hold off creditor claims.
If you have been served with Court documents and you are at all unsure of your rights and how best to proceed, or if you would like us to engage the other side to negotiate a settlement, please give us a call to arrange a friendly first conference.
Contact us today on 03 8595 9580
Written by Frank Starvaggi, Paralegal at DSA Law.