|Published||7 November 2017|
This article is about how to complete statements of claim. These can be used to commence court cases in the District Court and in the High Court. Templates and examples are located at the bottom of this page.
A statement of claim is a document that explains the reasons for the court case. It would need to describe who you are, what you are claiming, and why you should receive what you are claiming. It would also need to describe who the claim is against and why he, she or it should give you what you are claiming. These descriptions are called ‘pleadings’.
Statements of claim must include:
1. Your name.
2. Your address.
3. The name of the party, or each party, that you are bringing your claim against.
4. A description of each party you are claiming against.
5. The address of each party you are claiming against (if known).
6. A description of the claim, including:
6.1. the events that caused you to make the claim;
6.2. when those events happened;
6.3. where the events happened;
6.4. who was involved in the events;
6.5. how the person or people you are claiming against are responsible for giving you what you are claiming;
6.6. any loss was caused or damage done; and
6.7. what you are claiming.
7. The date you completed the statement of claim.
8. Contact information for documents to be served on you.
The District Court requires statements of claim in much the same form as the High Court, although there are a few small differences. “HCR” means High Court Rule and “DCR” means District Court Rule in the table that follows.
|International A4 size paper of medium weight and good quality.||5.3||5.6|
|Contents must be typed.||5.4||5.7|
|A margin of at least one quarter of the width of a page must be left on the left-hand side of each page, although that margin must appear on the right if the reverse side of a page is used.||5.5||5.8|
|The first sheet of each court document must be a cover sheet.||5.7(1)||5.10(1)|
|Coversheets must not be numbered.||5.7(2)||5.10(2)|
|Numbers must be expressed in figures not in words||5.15||5.18|
|Each page after a coversheet must be numbered consecutively from the number 1.||5.7(3)||5.10(3)|
|All sheets of a court document must be securely fastened together. A staple in the top left hand corner is usually all that is needed.||5.7(4)||5.10(4)|
|A heading complying with HCR Form G1 or otherwise DCR Form 2.The headings and forms are largely the same although the HCR makes provision for information in claims concerning the validity or interpretation of a will. Such claims cannot be brought in the District Court.
Also, District Court registrars may require the heading to be repeated on the second page of the document. That may be more of an interpretation issue than a difference between the actual wordings of the rules though.
|A description of the court document immediately below the heading. This would read “STATEMENT OF CLAIM” if the document were a statement of claim.||5.8||5.11|
|At the foot of the cover page, the name and contact information of any solicitor(s) presenting the document for filing, and the name of any agent filing it.||5.16||5.19|
|There must be enough space left between the description of the document and the information at the foot of the document for the Court to record a note or “minute”.||5.10||5.13|
|The contents of every court document must be divided into paragraphs.||5.14||5.17|
|Paragraphs must be numbered consecutively starting from the number 1.||5.14||5.17|
|Paragraphs must be confined to a single topic.||5.14||5.17|
|Distinct matters must be stated separately.||5.17||5.20|
|The general nature of the claim to the relief sought must be shown.||5.26(a)||5.29(a)|
|Sufficient particulars of time, place, amounts, names of persons, nature and dates of instruments, and other circumstances to inform everyone of the cause(s) of action must be given.||5.26(b)||5.29(b)|
|The basis of any claim for interest and the rate of interest claimed must be stated specifically.||5.26(c)||5.29(c)|
|Particulars of the government department or officer or employee concerned must be given in proceedings against the Crown instituted against the Attorney-General.||5.26(d)||5.29(d)|
|A party who sues or is sued in a representative capacity must show in what capacity the party sues or is sued.||5.35||5.33|
|Statements of claim must conclude by specifying the relief sought.||5.27(1)||5.30(1)|
|If the statement of claim includes 2 or more causes of action, it must separately specify the relief sought on each cause of action immediately after the pleading of that cause of action.||5.27(2)||5.30(2)|
|Several causes of action may be included in the same statement of claim.||5.28(1)||5.31(1)|
|The relief claimed must be stated specifically, either by itself or in the alternative.||5.31||5.34|
|A statement of claim seeking the recovery of a sum of money must state the amount as precisely as possible.||5.32||5.35|
|The nature, particulars and amount of any special damages sought must be stated.||5.33||5.36|
|Any set-off or abandoned portion of a claim must be stated.||5.34||5.37|
|A ‘memorandum’ or part at the end stating information about the party filing document. This may be in one of the paragraphs of HCR Form G10 or otherwise DCR Form 12.||5.44||5.47|
The main things that usually need to appear in any kind of claim:
1. A description of who the parties are.
2. The reasons for the claim or ‘causes of action’.
3. The details, specific allegations or ‘particulars’ that support the causes of action.
4. The solutions, remedies or ‘relief’ that would resolve the claim.
These are addressed in turn.
1. Description of parties
The cover page of the statement of claim would normally set out the name, address and occupation of each party to the case. However, it can be helpful to at least reiterate who the plaintiff is.
1. The plaintiff is a duly incorporated company having its registered office at 14 Tenth Street, Auckland and carrying on business as a marine motor retailer.
Sometimes it is appropriate to describe who the defendant is as well, although you might not know much other than that he was a purchaser in the case concerns a simple transaction. That much should be obvious from particulars of subsequent pleadings so it does not need to be spelt out in the claim.
It would be appropriate to describe the defendant if that description is relevant to the claim. For example, in a case concerning negligent financial advice:
2. At all material times the defendant carried on business as a financial advisor operating from Level 6, 10 Fourteenth Street, Wellington.
2. Causes of action
The events or circumstances that caused you the make the claim are called the “causes of action”. You must describe the causes of action in enough detail for people to understand exactly what you are claiming and why.
“First cause of action: Breach of contract”
The specifics of a cause of action are called “particulars”. These are items of information that help people to understand your cause or causes of action.
These can include places, names, dates, specific clauses in a contract or duties owed. Particulars are essentially the ‘who, what, where, why and how’ of the statement of claim. You would need to give ‘further and better particulars’ if someone one would not know exactly what you are claiming after reading your statement of claim.
However, it is important to note that you are not required to describe the evidence that supports facts you are alleging or discussing legal principles or authorities. The statement of claim is simply about making your allegations known. Argument about whether you are right to make those allegations comes later. So the requirement to give particulars does not mean you have to write a lot about your claim.
Each particular should be described in its own separate, numbered paragraph. That can make it easier to arrange your thoughts and refer back to a specific particular later on. Simple claims could involve only a few paragraphs of particulars.
Staying with the example of a transaction involving an outboard motor:
3. The plaintiff and the defendant made a written contract dated 7 May 2014 (“the contract”).
4. The contract was for the sale and purchase of a 2009, 5.3 litre “Yamaha F350” outboard motor bearing serial number 53350 (“the outboard”):
4.1. The plaintiff was the vendor.
4.2. The defendant was the purchaser.
4.3. The purchase price was $16,000.
4.4. The plaintiff was to deliver the outboard to the defendant no later than 20 May 2014.
4.5. The defendant was to pay the purchase price to the plaintiff by 4 instalments of $4,000 (“the instalments”).
4.6. The instalments were to be paid monthly.
4.7. The first instalment was to be paid no later than 20 May 2014.
4.8. Subsequent instalments were to be paid no later than the 20th day of each consecutive month following May 2014.
5. The plaintiff performed the contract by delivering the outboard to the defendant on or about 16 May 2014.
6. The defendant paid instalments as follows:
6.1. $4,000 paid on or about 17 May 2014.
6.2. $2,000 paid on or about 3 June 2014.
6.3. $2,000 paid on or about 18 June 2014.
6.4. $1,000 paid on or about 13 July 2014.
7. The defendant breached the contract when he failed to pay the $3,000 balance of the instalment that was due to be paid by 20 July 2014.
8. The defendant further breached the contract when he failed to pay the instalment that was due to be paid by 20 August 2014.
9. The plaintiff demanded the $7,000 balance of the purchase price from the defendant on or about 3 September 2014 (“the balance”).
10. The balance remains unpaid as at the date of this statement of claim.
You will see how defined terms simplify the particulars and putting them in (“bold, brackets and quotes”) make them easier to refer back to.
The “relief” is what you are claiming. So, if you are claiming $250,000, the “relief” is the $250,000. Most claims for an amount of money also include a claim for interest and legal costs as well as that amount. In those cases the “relief” would be “$250,000 plus interest and costs”. See those parts of CourtKeys.com that deal with interest and costs for more about those items of relief. Note that different courts and tribunals are subject to different rules about awarding interest and costs.
The relief must follow each cause of action both logically and literally.
People must be able to understand why you are entitled to the relief you are claiming. It is no good to say you have a cause of action for $250,000 in your claim but then go on to claim relief of $300,000. Where did the extra $50,000 come from? If the answer cannot be found in your statement of claim then either you have left something out of the particulars or you have not calculated the relief correctly.
The relief claimed in relation to a cause of action comes after the particulars for that cause of action. The part claiming the relief is known as the “prayer for relief”.
The prayer for relief can begin with the words “wherefore the plaintiff claims” and then go on to itemise the relief sought. Staying with the outboard motor example:
Wherefore the plaintiff claims:
A. The $7,000 balance of the purchase price.
B. Interest on the balance at prescribed rate of 5% per year from 20 August 2014 to the date of judgment in this proceeding.
The format for a simple statement of claim goes:
1. Cause of action.
2. Particulars of the cause of action.
3. Prayer for relief.
You follow that format even when there are several causes of action. So, for example, where there are three causes of action in a statement of claim the format would go:
1. First cause of action.
2. Particulars of the first cause of action.
3. Prayer for relief for the first cause of action.
4. Second cause of action.
5. Particulars of the second cause of action.
6. Prayer for relief for the second cause of action.
7. Third cause of action.
8. Particulars of the third cause of action.
9. Prayer for relief for the third cause of action.
No need to repeat particulars
Sometimes different causes of action share the same particulars. That does not mean you need to copy the particulars from one cause of action and repeat them in full in another. Remember that your particulars are set out in numbered paragraphs. You can simply refer back to those paragraphs rather than setting out the particulars all over again.
“Paragraphs 7, 9 to 11, 13 and 15 are repeated.”
Then, after referring back to particulars given previously, you could go on to describe new particulars that are needed to make out your additional cause of action.
District Court statement of claim template
You can download a District Court Statement of Claim template here.
High Court statement of claim template
You can download a High Court Statement of Claim template here. You can also download a High Court Statement of Claim example from here. The example demonstrates how the completed template could look.