12. What is pleading? What documents do the plaintiff and defendant need to serve in the pleading stage?
Pleadings are the court documents that set out each party’s case, including all material facts, the grounds of claim and the reliefs sought (if applicable). Common types of pleadings include “statement of claim” (for plaintiff), “defence (and counterclaim)” (for the defendant), “reply (and defence to counterclaim)” (for the plaintiff), and “further and better particulars” of pleadings. Subject to the Court’s discretion, unpleaded case/points may not be run in the trial.
Only the material facts in support of the party’s case (but not the documents or evidence) should be included in the pleadings. For example, in a claim for breach of contract, the terms of contract may be the material facts that needs to be pleaded in the pleadings, while the signed contract itself is a documentary evidence in support of your case. If necessary, a point of law may be pleaded in the pleadings. All of the pleadings need to be verified by a Statement of Truth.
The pleadings are deemed to be closed at the expiration of 14 days after service of the reply or, if there is no reply but only a defence to counterclaim, after the service of the defence to counterclaim. If neither a reply nor a defence to counterclaim is served, the pleadings are deemed to be closed at the expiration of 28 days after the service of the defence.