How do you apply for a summary judgment?
Applying for a summary judgment can be summarised in three steps:
- The applicant will draft an application notice (Form N244), supported by evidence (usually in the form of a witness statement from a solicitor) and a draft of the order that they want the judge to make.
- The applicant will file a copy with the court and serve a copy on the respondent.
- The court will list a date for the application to be heard before a judge.
If the parties wish to rely on written evidence, it must be filed and served at least seven days before the hearing date (CPR 24.5(1)). Any written evidence in reply must be filed and served at least three days before the hearing date (CPR 24.5(2)).
When can you apply for summary judgment?
A person can apply for summary judgment at any time and in any proceedings (save for the limited examples in CPR 24.3(2)).
If a claimant wishes to apply before the defendant has acknowledged the claim or filed its defence, permission from the court is required (CPR 24.4). However, it is most common to see summary judgment applications made once each party has served their case statements (such as the particulars of claim, the defence, and any replies).
An application for summary judgment may be made by either a claimant or a defendant. The court will be advised to be wary of both:
- “[…]the cocky claimant who … confidently presents the factual and legal issues as simpler and easier than they really are and urges the court to be ‘efficient’[…]” and
- “[…]the defendant, who seeks to avoid summary judgment by making a case look more complicated and difficult than it really is[…]”