S.I. No. 490 of 2021
The main objectives of these new rules, which will come into operation on the 13th November 2021, are to reduce the number of court hearings in cases where there is a motion to seek judgment in default of defence and to standardise the time periods for delivering certain pleadings.
- The new rules standardise the time for delivery of a statement of claim by a plaintiff to 8 weeks from service of the summons.
- The new rules standardise the time for delivery of defence in all cases to 8 weeks. The time currently prescribed for the delivery of a defence in non personal injury cases is 28 days and this time is not often achieved in practice.
- The current system for motions for judgment for failure to deliver a defence involves two motions (and at least one adjournment) before judgment is given, and imposes significantly on court time.
- The new rules propose one court hearing. Where the court extends time for delivery of the defence, the only order to be made would be an “Unless Order”. Judgment is to be entered for the plaintiff except where an extension of time is in the interests of justice. If an extension is warranted, the court will confirm the extended period and order that if the defence is not delivered within that time, judgment will be entered for the plaintiff without a need for any further application to the court.
- The current rules are amended to make it clear that the court is empowered to grant further relief claimed without the need to set the matter down for assessment or further determination.
- Where judgment has been obtained in default of appearance, the court is already empowered to set aside the judgment “upon such terms as may be just”. The new rules specifically set out the established tests for same.
- The new rules provide that a plaintiff must give the defendant a 28 day "warning letter" which is a notice of intention to seek judgment in default of appearance. The new rules also require that, in all applications for judgment in default of appearance, the plaintiff must serve the motion on the defendant. This should ensure that defendants are not taken by surprise in applications for judgement in default of appearance and should reduce the number of applications to set aside judgment obtained in default.
There are transitional provisions in the S.I. giving effect to these new rules. However, practitioners should note that the new rules apply to proceedings whether commenced before or after the commencement date (13th November 2021).