We are often approached by worried people asking what they can do when their case has been struck out by the court. In this short article we look at what can be done when disaster strikes.
What does it mean if a case is struck out?
The legal term 'struck out' fills most lawyers with dread. In simple terms, when a case is struck out it means that it has been dismissed and cannot be pursued any further. Unless the court agrees to reinstate the case it is the end of the line for that legal action. The consequences of this can be devastating. Not only will the party be denied the opportunity of continuing with their case, but they may also end up having to pay their opponent's legal costs as well as their own.
Striking out can apply to a claim that is being made or a defence to a claim. If the claimant's case is struck out then their claim is lost. If a defence is struck out then the claim can no longer be defended and judgement could be entered.
The court's power to strike out a case
A court can strike out a statement of case (in whole or in part) under Civil Procedure Rule 3.4 where it appears to the court that:
- There are no reasonable grounds for bringing or defending a claim;
- The case is an abuse of the court’s process or is likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings; or
- There has been a failure to comply with a rule, practice direction or court order.
A ‘statement of case’ in civil proceedings is a document in which a party sets out the facts of their case, detailing the merits of the case and the issues they intend to rely on in the legal proceedings.
A claimant’s statement of claim, the defendant’s defence and any counterclaim, are all statements of case. They allow the parties and the court to identify the issues in dispute and assist the judge in reaching an informed decision about the case.
Statements of case should be drafted to enable the parties and the judge to see the parties’ position on the issues in dispute. The document should set out the whole picture as concisely as possible.
The consequences of a case being struck out
The court’s power to strike out a statement of case is a draconian one.
When a party’s statement of case is struck out their legal position in the proceedings is likely to be fundamentally and irreparably prejudiced. If they are a claimant it could mean that their claim is lost. If they are a defendant it could mean that their opponent will be able to enter judgment against them.
There are also important cost consequences following a striking out order. A party whose statement of case is struck out in its entirety is likely to be ordered to pay their opponent's costs. In long running litigation these legal costs may amount to a considerable sum.
What you can do if your case is struck out
If you are acting as a litigant in person and have been threatened with an application to strike out then you may benefit from seeking urgent legal advice from a qualified lawyer.
Where you have retained a solicitor to act on your behalf and discover that your case has been struck out you then you may wish to consider the reasons behind the striking out. If you find that your case has been struck out because of something your solicitor has done, or has failed to do, then you could well be entitled to pursue a claim against the solicitor for compensation for professional negligence. This will give you an opportunity of recovering your losses, which may include:
- The value of the case that has been struck out;
- The legal costs that you are ordered to pay to your opponent; and
- Your own wasted legal costs.
No Win, No Fee strike out claims
Where a compensation claim is made because a case has been struck out due to a legal error then we may be able to deal with it on a No Win, No Fee basis. We are always happy to provide a free assessment of any situation where a claim has been struck out and confirm if No Win, No Fee funding is available.
So, if your case has been struck out or you are facing a striking out application then call our legal helpline for a free assessment and details of any steps that we can take on your behalf to reduce or limit the damage to your position. Call 0808 139 1595 or email us at [email protected]
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