Help! I’ve been Served
Being served is not a pleasant experience. Often, a process server will show up at your home or place of work and hand you a bunch of documents with no explanation as to what they are or what to do. If that has happened to you, we recommend following these simple steps to help your feel more at ease.
- Read the Documents
It sounds simple, but reading the documents is often overlooked. When we say ‘read’ we don’t mean scanning or a quick flick through of the documents. We mean, taking the time to sit down and thoroughly read through each paragraph. Make sure you aren’t in a rush and don’t have anything around that can distract you. Read through each paragraph, highlight parts you think are important and write down your response next to each paragraph.
This will help you to identify the issues and to break down the documents into more manageable parts. Where you don’t have a response written next to a paragraph, this may suggest that you don’t have a defence or that this is an area of concern for you.
- Look for Due Dates
On the first few pages of the court documents there will be a due date. It will depend on the type of document you have been served with. For example, a claim or statement of claim will require you to file a defence or notice of appearance. Be sure to locate this date and begin preparing the document in advance.
If you miss the due date, the other side may be able to apply for default judgment. This is a court order against you because you have failed to file your court document. Once this happens, it will be harder, more costly and time consuming to undo. To avoid this, we recommend diarising all of the key due dates and setting reminders.
- Collect Your Evidence
It is never too early to begin collecting your evidence. This involves going through and collecting copies of any documents, contracts, emails and letters exchanged with the other side. If there are any notes from discussions, these should also be used.
These documents can then be categorised in a number of ways, whether in chronological order, grouped by the type of issue or type of documents. Initially, it may be most helpful to place them in chronological order and prepare a chronology of events which contain some extra information and background on the case.
- Get Some Support
The court documents to be prepared and the process of a case depends on the type of case, the court which is hearing the matter and the court rules that apply. Given these intricacies, it is best to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.