Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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7. If the defendant considers that he does in fact owe the plaintiff some money, what action can be taken by the defendant?

If the defendant thinks that he owes the plaintiff some money (but not the amount claimed by the plaintiff), he may pay the amount he considers appropriate (together with interest) into court. Alternatively, if negotiations with a view to settlement are not successful, the defendant may pay the money he offered into court.

On making any payment into court, the defendant must give notice to the plaintiff on the form named "Notice of payment into court".

You can find a sample notice of payment into court form on the Judiciary website (for cases commenced in the High Court). You can also get this form at the relevant Court Registries or at the Resource Centre for Unrepresented Litigants.

If the plaintiff accepts the amount that the defendant has paid into the court, the claim will be settled at that amount and the plaintiff can recover the legal costs from the defendant up to the time the plaintiff accepts the payment into court.

If the plaintiff does not accept the money paid into court by the defendant, the plaintiff may still continue with the civil action and the matter will be resolved by the court. The matter of payment into court by the defendant will not be disclosed to the judge at the trial. This is to avoid any bias or adverse inference being drawn against the defendant.

After the case is determined at a trial by the court, if the plaintiff succeeds in claiming more than the amount paid into court by the defendant, the plaintiff would be entitled to the legal costs for the whole trial. However, if the court awards to the plaintiff an amount less than or equal to the amount of the defendant's payment-in, the court may order the plaintiff to bear the defendant's costs from the time the plaintiff should have accepted payment-in to the end of the trial. (The defendant has to bear his own costs from the beginning of the case up to the time the plaintiff should have accepted his payment-in.) There will be a set-off of the costs between the plaintiff and the defendant when the costs are assessed.

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