Writs and pleadings


Pleadings (sometimes called writs) are court documents that are exchanged by the parties in a case. If the case is a High Court or Circuit Court case, the solicitor will usually appoint a barrister to draft the pleadings in the case.

The person who is bringing the case, that is, the person who is suing, is known as the plaintiff or claimant. The person who is being sued is known as the defendant or respondent.

If you receive a writ or pleading that was sent to you in error, you should contact the solicitor whose name appears on the document.

District Court cases

If the claimant wishes to commence proceedings (that is, to start the legal action) in the District Court, their solicitor prepares and serves a claim notice on the respondent.

The respondent (or their solicitor) then gives or sends to the claimant (or their solicitor) an appearance and defence to show that they intend to defend the case.

If the respondent believes that they actually have a claim against the claimant, the respondent includes in the appearance and defence a statement of counterclaim setting out their claim against the claimant.

There is more information in our document on District Court procedures.

Circuit Court and High Court cases

To commence proceedings the plaintiff's barrister generally prepares a Civil Bill if the case is a Circuit Court case or an originating summons if the case is a High Court case.

The purpose of these documents is to state the case being made against the defendant. For example, if the case is about a road traffic accident, the writ should clearly set out the circumstances of the accident and why and how the defendant is at fault. The document also sets out in detail the injuries that the plaintiff suffered.

When the defendant receives the Civil Bill or originating summons, they must enter an appearance to show that they are now a party to the case and intend to defend it.

If it is a High Court case, the plaintiff may then have to send a statement of claim to the defendant.

The defendant may send the plaintiff a Notice for Particulars requesting further details and more information.

When the defendant has received Replies to Particulars, they issue their Defence, setting out why the defendant is not to blame. If the defendant believes that they actually have a claim against the plaintiff, the defendant includes a counterclaim with the Defence setting out their claim against the plaintiff.

Further information

Further information is available in our documents on Circuit Court procedures and High Court procedures.

You can also consult the Courts Service website.

Page edited: 20 August 2020