A Defendant who wants to challenge the Plaintiff’s claim must inform both the Court and the Plaintiff of his intention to do so by entering an appearance. An appearance is entered by filing a Memorandum of Appearance in Court within 8 days after he is served with the Writ of Summons.
After this, he must file his Defence in Court and serve a copy of his Defence on the Plaintiff or the Plaintiff’s lawyer within 22 days from the date the Defendant was served with the Statement of Claim.
If the Defendant refuses to acknowledge service of a Writ of Summons, this does not make the service of the Writ of Summons invalid and the Plaintiff can proceed further and obtain a Default Judgment (meaning judgment in default of the Defendant’s appearance being entered).
The Defendant’s failure to file the Memorandum of Appearance or to file and serve his Defence is very serious and can result in Default Judgment (i.e. automatic, immediate judgment) being entered against him.
If the Defendant has a Counterclaim to make against the Plaintiff, he must file a Defence & Counterclaim to state the key points of his defence, as well as his counterclaim.
The Plaintiff can file a Reply to the Defence after the Defence has been filed.
If the Defendant had earlier filed a Defence & Counterclaim, the Plaintiff can then also file a Reply & Defence to the Counterclaim. The Statement of Claim, Defence and Reply filed by the Plaintiff and Defendant are also known as “pleading”.