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What Procedural Steps do I Need to Take?

After you have decided what court to bring a case in, you have to work out what procedural steps you need to take in order to bring a valid claim. Key steps often include:

  • Notification: Letting the defendant know you intend to bring a claim;
  • Filing your claim in court: Formally submitting your “claim form” and submissions to court;
  • Serving your claim: Delivering your key case documents to the defendant; and
  • Disclosure: Exchanging evidence that you will rely on with the court and defendant.

If you don’t follow the correct procedures in your case, there’s a risk your case will be dismissed. For that reason, it’s very important you check what procedure applies to your case.

Procedures will change in different countries and types of cases. We outline common steps in civil, public and criminal cases below.

1

Civil Cases

Common procedural steps in civil cases are outlined below:

Civil Claim Procedure

  • 1

    Notification

    Consider whether to notify the defendant that you are going to bring a claim, or whether this will cause the defendant to destroy evidence or remove assets beyond the reach of the court

  • 2

    File your claim

    File or submit your case in court within the relevant time period after the arrest occurred.

  • 3

    Present your statement of claim

    Present your grounds for the claim to the court, which will be shared with the defendants. This document is referred to as a "statement of claim", "statement of case", "particulars of claim" and "complaint". These documents and your claim form will then have to be shared with or "served" upon the defendant.

  • 4

    The defence

    Defendants will then have a chance to explain their position. They can either accept all or part of your claim, or deny your version of events in full. This document is known as the "defence".

  • 5

    Disclosure

    Parties provide each other with "evidence" on which they are going to rely. The evidence may be in documentary form, electronic, or in the form of oral testimony from a witness. If the evidence is in oral form, it will generally be necessary for the main parts of this evidence to be set out in writing, in a document called a "witness statement".

  • 6

    Trial

    Once evidence has been exchanged, the court will generally notify the parties of a date for the main court hearing (sometimes called the "trial"). At the trial each of the parties have an opportunity to put forward their evidence and explain their case. Witnesses are expected to attend and are asked questions on their testimony.

  • 7

    Judgment

    Once the main trial is over, the judge will consider each of the parties' arguments and form a decision, often in the form of a "judgment".

  • 8

    Appeal

    The losing party generally will have the right to appeal this judgement before a higher court.

2

Administrative, Constitutional and Human Rights Cases

The procedure in public law cases is often similar to civil cases, with some minor variations. Common steps are outlined below:

Public Law Procedure

  • 1

    Notify the defendant

    Write a formal letter to the proposed defendant setting out the proposed claim and what you wish to achieve. A response is usually requested from the defendant.

  • 2

    File your claim form

    Submit your "claim form" to court within the required "time period" (there is usually a number of months of years after the incident within which you must file your claim).

  • 3

    Present your statement of claim

    Present your grounds for the claim to the court, which will be shared with the defendants. This document can be referred to as a "statement of claim", "statement of case", "particulars of claim" and "complaint". This then have to be shared with or "served" on the defendant.

  • 4

    The defence

    Defendants will then have a chance to explain their position. They can either accept all or part of your claim, or deny your version of events in full. This document is known as the "defence".

  • 5

    The permission phase

    In some countries, you have to apply to the court for permission to bring a public law claim. The court will decide whether your claim is arguable or has some chance of success before allowing it to go to a full trial.

  • 6

    Disclosure or exchange of evidence

    You and the defendant may be asked to share the evidence you are relying with each other. This includes the names of witnesses you plan on calling. You will also have the opportunity to apply for further information to be given to you by the defendant.

  • 7

    Trial

    Once evidence has been exchanged, the court will generally notify the parties of a date for the main court hearing (sometimes called the "trial"). At the trial each of the parties have an opportunity to put forward their evidence and explain their case. Witnesses are expected to attend and are asked questions on their testimony.

  • 8

    Judgment

    Once the main trial is over, the judge will consider each of the parties' arguments and form a decision, often in the form of a "judgment".

  • 9

    Appeal

    The losing party generally will have the right to appeal this judgement before a higher court.

3

Criminal Cases

The process of bringing a criminal case is outlined in the flow chart below:

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