The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic discusses a Statement of Claim. A Statement of Claim is legal notice to you that someone with whom you are having a disagreement wants something from you – likely a judgment against you. The Statement of Claim is often prepared by a lawyer, though not always. It is issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench and this starts a legal action against you.
Read the Document very carefully to determine what is being asked of you. Inspect theStatement of Claim for the following information:
- The Statement of Claim names the disagreeing parties. There are usually two parties set out on the first page. The person suing you is called the plaintiff. You will likely be the defendant. You could be a co-defendant if there is more than one defendant.
- On the back page of the Statement of Claim you will find the name of the plaintiff, the lawyer for the plaintiff if there is one, the address of the plaintiff and an address for service. The address for service is important. It is where you must send any documents which respond to the claim. If you are going to defend against the claim you must prepare your documents and file them with the Court. The most important thing to note on the back page of the Statement of Claim is the time limit for filing aStatement of Defence. The usual time limit is 15 days. The plaintiff can proceed to obtain judgment against you without further notice if you miss this date.
- The issues in dispute are described and the facts supporting the plaintiff’s claim are also summarized in the Statement of Claim. The plaintiff will allege what your responsibility for any damage is or injuries suffered. Finally, the plaintiff will ask for a specific remedy. For example, they may want money from you to reimburse him for injuries that have been caused. They may want a judgment against you for money you owe him.
In responding to the Statement of Claim you should consider the following points:
- You should consider contacting a lawyer to respond to the Statement of Claim.
- Once you have read the Statement of Claim thoroughly, prepare a point form written summary of your side of the story. It will assist you or your lawyer with the response.
- Collect any documentation you have on the disputed claim. This may include contracts, agreements, notes of phone conversations or other discussions, photos or repair bills. Prepare a chronological summary of the events.
- List any witnesses and other people who may share responsibility with you or be responsible instead of you. List any actions, events, or documents, which show that the claims are the fault of the plaintiff. List any claim you may have against the plaintiff. You may want to file a Statement of Defence, a Statement of Defence and Counterclaim or a Statement of Defence with a Third Party Notice to others who might be responsible. If you are not going to defend against the allegations but want to know what is happening with the matter, you may file a Demand of Notice to receive notice of all subsequent motions made against you.
- You should consult with a lawyer as quickly as possible to give them time to prepare the response documents and serve them on the plaintiff’s lawyers. Remember the 15 day time limit.
The Lawyer Referral Service can give you the name of a lawyer who can advise you on these matters. If you cannot afford a lawyer your local Legal Aid office may be able to assist you. Phone the government RITE line 310-0000 and ask for the nearest legal Aid office in your area. If you are in Calgary and cannot afford a lawyer, call Calgary Legal Guidance at 234-9266 to see if you are eligible to book an appointment.