This article is an abbreviated version of a chapter in Civil Litigation D.I.Y., a litigation book on how to value, assemble and settle lawsuits.
The book does a deep dive into the 6 steps outlined below, discussing each of the steps in some detail. The book and this article are legal information, not legal advice.
I’ve read a lot of claims that run the full spectrum from excellent to terrible. The pleadings are the first thing a Judge looks at for a trial. They are therefore important. Excellent pleadings tell an easy to follow story covering the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when and why and address the issues discussed below.
Step 1: Can you Avoid Court?
First and foremost: why are you drafting a statement of claim? Going to Court should be a last resort once you’ve truly exhausted all other avenues, such as negotiation and mediation.
Step 2: Thinking Ahead
Thinking ahead involves considering who is suing who and why. What is the legal basis for the claim? What is the case worth? What is the limitation period?
Step 3: Form
The statement of claim must use the right format and look right. We have precedent statements of claim for breach of contract and for negligence in our trial resources. These easy to use precedents set the claims up and use yellow highlights to show the writer what changes need to be made.
Step 4: Content
A statement of claim will include Court information, party names, the relief sought, a description of who’s who, an overview, a discussion of liability and a discussion of damages.
Step 5: Jury?
It is during the pleadings stage that parties consider whether or not to have a Jury. A Jury notice is filed if they want one and the case is suitable for a Jury.
Step 6: Review
Like anything you write, it is important to review and edit. It’s also a good idea to have someone else read the draft claim to see if it makes sense to them. It never hurts to hire a lawyer on a consulting basis to review and comment on the draft. This can be valuable advice to make sure the statement of claim will enable the case to proceed.
For a more detailed discussion of how to write a statement of claim, please take a look at the corresponding chapter in Civil Litigation D.I.Y. called “How to Draft a Statement of Claim”.
We are regularly consulted on draft statements of claim. Please feel free to set up a trial consultation to discuss further.
These trial resources are trial information, not trial legal advice.
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