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What your Lawyer does when he is retained (pt. 2)


Some time ago I introduced the above topic and promised to let you know what your Lawyer does after you have retained him/her. Other topics had become urgent for the last weeks and so I was unable to keep my promise, but here it is this week. I will not disappoint you.{{more}}

Preparation for proceedings

When you retain a Lawyer to represent you in a civil matter, you must give him all the information pertaining to the issue. You have to be prepared for an interview, so make sure you keep your appointment. You must present him with all documents associated with the matter. A land matter requires the deed or any other supporting document. Your Lawyer would bring the matter under the relevant law pertaining to the issue.

The claim form/fixed date claim form

I told you earlier that proceedings could be started either by a claim form or a fixed date claim form, and matters pertaining to the claim form were discussed at length. A Lawyer cannot make an arbitrary choice of the type of claim form. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Civil Procedure Rules 2000, sets out all matters that could be brought by fixed date claim at Part 8.1 (5). These include matters pertaining to hire purchase or credit sale agreements and any matters pertaining to land. It must also be used where a practice direction requires it and where an act requires a matter to be started by an originating summons or a motion.

The two claim forms dictate two different procedures. When the fixed date claim form is filed it must be given a date for the first hearing. The parties would have to go before the judge on the date given by the court office. The judge will then give directions as to how the case would proceed. On the other hand, an ordinary claim would be served and the law would dictate its procedure in accordance with the time span within which certain actions have to be taken. When the parties first go before the court it would be for case management before the Master.

Applications could be made for court orders before, during or after the course of proceedings.

Certificate of truth

When any claim form is filed, whether fixed date or otherwise, a Certificate of truth must accompany it. This is to confirm that the statements of case in the claim are true. The claimant signs the certificate of truth. If the claimant is unable to do so then the legal practitioner must do so. CPR 2000 Part 3.12 (4) requires the legal practitioner to state that it “is given on the client’s instructions and that “it is impractical for the client to give the certificate”. Failure to provide this certificate could have serious consequences as the court could strike out the statement of case [Part 3.13 (1)].

Contents of claim form

The claim form is the document that the judge must read to get an insight into your claim. It must, therefore, give the nature of your claim and the remedy you are seeking. It is not necessary to give all the details of your case, but the facts on which you would rely must be clearly stated. The documents on which you rely must also be appended. Depending on the case, you might need to give an affidavit. Your Lawyer would give you advice as to what you would need for your particular case. Next time you would hear more about service of documents so that you would know what to do if someone serves you claim forms.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]