There are many stages between filing the pleadings and the start of the trial.
During the pre-trial stage (also known as the “interlocutory stage”), parties have to fulfil the requirements stated in the Rules of Court e.g. giving enough details of the party’s case, gathering and exchanging documents which are relevant to the case (known as Discovery), preparation and exchanging witness statements known as Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief (AEICs).
As the parties are preparing their case for trial during the pre-trial stage, they may file interlocutory applications to the Court in order to help their preparation of their case.
Some examples of common interlocutory applications include:
- An application for Default Judgment: this is where a Plaintiff applies for judgment without a trial on the ground that the Defendant did not appear or file and serve his defence.
- An application for the amendment of documents filed (e.g. the Statement of Claim, Defence, Reply) in relation to the matter in dispute.
- An application for Discovery of documents: using this process, the Court can order a party to disclose certain relevant documents in his possession, custody or power to the other party.
- An application for Further and Better Particulars: using this process, the Court may order a party to provide further details in his pleadings so that the other party can better understand what he needs to establish at trial.
- An application for summary judgment: this is where the Plaintiff tries to apply for and obtain judgment without going to trial by arguing that that the Defendant has no real defence to contest his claim.
- An application for Striking Out: this is where the Defendant applies for some parts of all of the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim to be struck out (i.e. cancelled) on the grounds that there is no reasonable cause of action against the Defendant, the action is frivolous or vexatious, or an abuse of the Court process.
Interlocutory applications can be started by filing a Summons (which states the type of application being filed and the grounds of the application), together with an affidavit (i.e. sworn witness statement) to provide evidence to support the application.
The Summons is a document that sets out the key information regarding the application i.e. the parties, the order being requested for and the grounds of application. The affidavit is a sworn witness statement that states the facts which a party wants to rely on in support of his application. An affidavit must be signed in the presence of a Commissioner for Oaths.