Steps for Filing a Defence

Steps for Filing a Defence – What To Do If You’ve Been Served with A Claim



What To Do If You’ve Been Served with A Claim

If you have been served with a Claim for a matter brought before a Queensland Court, you have two main options.

The first is that you can perform the claim. Depending on what is being claimed, this may involve:

  • paying the amount claimed;
  • returning a particular item; or
  • performing or ceasing an action.

The second option is to dispute the claim.

Aitken Whyte Lawyers can make the process of disputing a Claim easy to navigate.

Below we have provided general information on the first step of filing a Defence to assist. If you wish to seek representation from a lawyer, however, give us a call or send us a message.

What Is a Claim and Statement of Claim?

A Claim and Statement of Claim are Court documents requesting:

  • certain actions; or
  • monetary payments.

Together, a Claim and Statement of Claim can be used to start proceedings for varying amounts. This could be a fixed amount of money, or an unknown amount, such as damages for breach of contract.

The individual or entity issuing the Claim is the “Plaintiff“. The alleged wrongdoer from who the plaintiff is seeking something is the “Defendant“.

The Claim gives a brief description of what a plaintiff is claiming from a defendant. The Statement of Claim outlines the plaintiff’s claim in detail. It sets out the facts that the plaintiff is relying on to seek legal remedy from the defendant.

Which Court Will Issue the Claim?

The appropriate Court jurisdiction will depend on the value of the monetary dispute.

Claim AmountCourt To Start Proceedings In
Up to $150,000Magistrates Court of Queensland
Between $150,000 and $750,000District Court of Queensland
Over $750,000Supreme Court of Queensland
Fig. Appropriate Court jurisdiction to file a Claim

Common claim types include debt recovery and breach of contract.

In some instances, the plaintiff may seek orders other than an award for monetary relief.  Those claims may not always follow the jurisdiction above as the Magistrates’ Court generally only has jurisdiction to make money orders.

Regardless of the type of claim, if you have been served with a Claim document, you need to act promptly. Strict time limitations apply.

Time Limitations

The date you are given a copy of the Claim, or the Claim is brought to your attention, is the date you are “served“. A process server may visit you and give you the Claim or you may receive it in another way, as allowed by the Court rules.

The plaintiff must wait at least 28 days from the date you are served to progress the proceedings.

This means you have 28 days to act and gives you an opportunity to consider your options.

You may respond to the Claim by:

  1. Admitting the allegation and performing the claim (e.g. by paying the money owed);
  2. Negotiating with the plaintiff to reach a settlement without further litigation;
  3. Including third parties who you believe should be a party to the matter; or
  4. Disputing the allegation and filing a Defence.

If you dispute the Caim, you must file a Notice of Intention to Defend and a Defence within 28 days of being served.

If You Do Nothing

If you do not act within 28 days, the plaintiff may file an Application for Default Judgement.

In the absence of a Defence, the Court may award the plaintiff a Judgement for the full amount of the Claim.

A Judgement being awarded against you can have significant ramifications. In addition to the amount of the Claim, you may also be ordered to pay the plaintiff’s costs and interest. A Judgement may also impact your credit rating.

If you do not pay the Judgement amount, the plaintiff can enforce the Judgement in various ways. For example, they may be able to garnish your wages or obtain an order to sell your property.

Receiving a Claim and having to respond in a short period can be overwhelming. If you are unsure of what to do, our experienced litigation lawyers can assist. We’re happy to review the Claim and let you know your options and next steps.

Disputing The Claim

If you decide to dispute the Claim, you can do so by filing a Defence. You will need to complete the relevant forms and file them within 28 days of being served with the Claim. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice before preparing your Defence.

There are strict Court rules that you must adhere to when pleading your Defence. The document can be difficult to get right if you prepare it yourself.

The relevant forms can be found on the Queensland Courts website. These include:

When drafting a Defence, you will need to address each allegation made by the party filing the Claim. This must be done in accordance with the Court rules.

In response to each allegation, you can:

  • deny the allegation;
  • admit the allegation; or
  • make a non-admission.

Your Defence should also contain your argument as to why the plaintiff is not entitled to the relief.

Once you have drafted the Defence, you must ensure you file it in the Court registry in the appropriate form. You will need to file your Defence in the same registry the Claim was filed in.

You should include with your Defence, a Notice of Intention to Defend when filing.

You must then serve your documents on the plaintiff at their address for service.

Filing A Counterclaim

You may believe you have a cause of action against the plaintiff, rather than the other way around. In this instance, you can file a Counterclaim alongside your Defence. The Counterclaim should:

  • set out the facts of your case against the plaintiff; and
  • request an outcome.

If you are seeking a monetary award, you should state the amount and details of how you calculated it.

The plaintiff will have 14 days from the date they are served with the Defence and Counterclaim to reply.

Common Pitfalls of Preparing Your Own Defence

Court pleadings can be complex documents. Without experience, it can be difficult to:

  • sufficiently plead your case; and
  • do so in compliance with the Court rules.

Common pitfalls we see parties run into when preparing their own Defence include:

  • failing to comply with relevant time limitations (e.g., not filing documents in time);
  • failing to file all necessary documents;
  • failing to draft all documents in the correct forms;
  • including evidence in their Defence (your Defence should consist of your arguments);
  • failing to respond to each allegation in the Statement of Claim;
  • misunderstanding how the law applies to their case;
  • inadvertently admitting liability;
  • not fully understanding the Claim against them; or
  • pleading matters in the Defence that are irrelevant to the case.

Unfortunately, these things can lead to:

  • your defence being rejected;
  • a failure to file the correct documents on time being taken as an admission of fault;
  • your Defence being insufficient for filing;
  • all or part of your defence being struck out;
  • a costs order against you;
  • an assumption that you admit certain allegations in the Statement of Claim that you do not; and
  • the relief being granted to the plaintiff without further notice to you.

These things can have serious financial repercussions.

Engaging experienced lawyers to assist you to deal with a Claim can protect your rights. As experts at what we do, Aitken Whyte Lawyers will guide you through the process toward the best outcome.

Focused On Results

Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane are focused on results.

We will take a tailored approach to resolve your case on the best terms for you, whether:

  • you admit the Claim and wish to negotiate with the plaintiff; or
  • you wish to file a Defence and/or a Counterclaim.

Should you need to take Court action, you will have an expert legal team ready to fight for you. Call us today to discuss your needs.

Office Location and Contact Details


Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane
2/414 Upper Roma Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

Ph: 07 3229 4459
Fax: +617 3211 9311


07 3229 4459 Email

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