What is an acknowledgment of service and when is it used?
When a court claim is made against a defendant, he can respond in a number of ways. If he intends to contest the jurisdiction of the court or defend the proceedings, but requires additional time to serve a defence, he should file with the court a document known as an acknowledgment of service.
There are a number of versions of the acknowledgment of service form but the one most commonly used is known as form N9. When court proceedings are served on the defendant, he should have received a response pack. The acknowledgment of service should have been included in the response pack. A copy of form N9 can also be obtained from the court or found on the Court Service’s website.
How do I complete form N9?
At the top right hand side of the form the name of the court should be stated. This will normally be the court in which the proceedings were commenced, as stated on the claim form.
The claim number should also be stated. The claim number can be found at the top right hand side of the claim form.
The names of the parties should be listed, together with their reference details, where appropriate. If there is more than one defendant, the name of the defendant submitting the acknowledgment of service should be included.
If the defendant’s full name was not stated on the claim form or was stated incorrectly, the defendant should state his full name at the top left hand side of the form followed by the words ‘described as’ and the incorrect name.
The defendant is required to provide an address for service of documents. Other contact information, such as fax numbers, DX numbers and email addresses, should also be included.
The rules relating to addresses for service depend upon whether the defendant is legally represented or not.
Where the defendant is not legally represented
If the defendant is an individual, the address for service should be the address at which the defendant resides. If the defendant is a company or corporation the address for service should be the address at which the defendant carries on business.
The address should include a full postcode, unless the court otherwise orders, and must be within the UK or within another EEA state.
Where the defendant is legally represented
If the defendant is legally represented and the legal representative is the one signing the form, the address for service should be the legal representative’s business address. That address can be either within the UK or within another EEA state. The address should include a full postcode, unless the court otherwise orders.
Responding to the claim
The defendant should indicate, by ticking the appropriate box, whether he intends to: admit the claim; defend all of the claim; defend part of the claim; or contest the court’s jurisdiction.
A defendant may contest the jurisdiction of the court if he believes the proceedings should have been commenced in a different country or in a different court.
If the defendant is an individual he should state his date of birth.
The acknowledgment of service must be signed by either the defendant or his legal representative, if he has one.
Companies and other corporations
If the defendant is a company or other corporation and is not legally represented, the acknowledgment of service should be signed by a person holding a ‘senior position’ in the company or corporation.
If the defendant is a registered company or corporation, the acknowledgment of service should be signed by a director, the treasurer, the secretary, chief executive, manager or other officer of the company or corporation.
If the defendant is not a registered company, the acknowledgment of service should be signed by a director, the treasurer, the secretary, chief executive, manager, mayor, chairman, president, town clerk or similar officer of the corporation.
Where the acknowledgment of service is signed by a person holding a senior position, his position must be stated.
Where the defendant is a partnership and is not legally represented, the acknowledgment of service may be signed by any of the partners, or by any person authorised by any partner to sign it.
Children and protected parties
If the defendant is a child or a ‘protected party’ (a party who lacks capacity to conduct the proceedings) the acknowledgment of service must be signed by their ‘litigation friend’ (a person appointed by the court to conduct the proceedings on his behalf) or his legal representative, unless the court otherwise orders.
Time limits following acknowledgment of service
If the defendant has filed an acknowledgement of service and plans to defend his case, he usually has 28 days from the date of service of the particulars of claim to file his defence. Failure to do so within the time limits means judgment may be entered against him. Where the claimant serves the claim form on a defendant in a Convention territory outside Europe, under Civil Procedure Rule 6.33, the defendant has 45 days after service of the particulars of claim to file his defence.
If he does not file an application to contest the court’s jurisdiction within 28 days of filing the acknowledgment of service, it will be assumed that he accepts the court’s jurisdiction.