What are the main stages of a civil action before the trial?
There are a few stages between filing the pleadings and the trial starting in a Civil case.
During the pre-trial stage (known as “interlocutory stage”), both parties must follow the criteria stated in the Rules of Court, for example, those relating to giving enough details of 1’s case, the gathering and exchange of documents that are relevant to the case (known as discovery) and the preparation and exchange of witness statements by way of Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief.
During the preparation of the case for trial during the pre-trial stage, both parties may submit interlocutory applications to the Court to help the preparation of their case.
Interlocutory applications are requests made to the Court to make a temporary or provisional decision on an issue during the intermediate stage between the start and end of the 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 basis that the Defendant did not appear or submit 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: through this process, the Court can order a person to disclose certain relevant documents in his possession, custody or power to the other person;
- An application for further and better particulars: through this process, the Court can order a person to provide further details in his pleadings so the other person can better understand what he needs to establish at trial;
- An application for summary judgment: this is where the Plaintiff applies for judgment without trial on the basis that the Defendant has no real defence to challenge his claim.
- An application for striking out: this is where the Defendant applies for some parts or the whole of the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim to be struck out on the basis that there is no reasonable cause of action against him, the action is trivial or intended to annoy, or abuse of the Court process.
Interlocutory applications can be started by filing a Summons, together with an affidavit to support the application.
The Summons is a document that states the parties, the order which the person wants to obtain from the Court and the grounds of an application for the order. The affidavit’s a document that states the facts which a person seeks to rely on in support of his application or to oppose an application filed by the other person. An affidavit must be attested to before a Commissioner for Oaths.
So there you have it, some basic information on the main stages in a Civil action before the trial.