Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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VI. What kinds of applications may be made to court before the commencement of a trial?

"Interlocutory proceedings" are proceedings that deal with the rights of the parties (plaintiff and defendant) in the interval between the commencement of the civil action and its final determination (i.e. before the court delivers the final judgment). One of the main functions is to ensure that the matter proceeds expeditiously and properly to trial. A party usually takes interlocutory proceedings to:

  • apply to the court for an extension of time for submitting certain documents;
  • seek directions from the court regarding the conduct of the case;
  • compel the other party to comply with the rules of the court or the court's directions; or
  • apply to the court to grant such interim relief or remedy (e.g. an interim payment/compensation or injunction) as may be just or convenient.

Some common interlocutory applications are listed below.

  1. Application for extension of time for complying with certain directions under the rules of court or a court order. For example, the plaintiff may apply (with substantial reasons) to extend the deadline for filing a reply to a defence.

  2. Application for further and better particulars (more detailed information) of the other party's pleadings.

  3. Application for striking out a particular pleading or part of the pleading of the other party. The applying party may rely on the grounds that the other party's pleading (i) discloses no reasonable cause of action or defence, as the case may be; (ii) is scandalous, frivolous or vexatious; (iii) may prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial of the action; or (iv) is otherwise an abuse of the process of the court.

  4. Application for amendment to the pleadings. The plaintiff and the defendant may each amend their own pleadings once before the close of pleadings (note), without the court's prior permission. Further amendments require the permission of the court. For an amendment made by one party without the court's permission, the other party shall have 14 days (after receiving the first party's amended pleading) to amend his own pleading. For an amendment that requires the court's permission, the court will specify the time for the other party to amend his own pleading.

    (Note: When both parties have set out all their facts in the statement of claim, defence (or defence and counterclaim) and reply to defence (or defence to counterclaim), the pleadings are considered to have been closed.)

  5. Application for documents to be disclosed from the other party. For more details, please go to another section – discovery (disclosure) of documents.

  6. Interlocutory applications can also be made by parties to a civil action to: (i) preserve a party's rights before trial, or (ii) to dispose of or to settle a civil action before the parties have to attend a full trial. You can find more information concerning these two matters on questions 5 to 12 below.

It must be noted that some interlocutory proceedings involve technical issues and arguments. It is not advisable to start such proceedings without legal advice. The court does not approve of the misuse of interlocutory procedure, which only wastes time and money. Parties are able to obtain justice from the court more expeditiously and economically without unnecessary applications before the commencement of the trial.

    Interlocutory proceedings and interim court orders

  1. How are interlocutory applications made?
  2. How to prepare an affidavit or affirmation?
  3. How is the hearing of an interlocutory application conducted?
  4. Can the plaintiff or the defendant appeal against an order made on an interlocutory application?

  5. Applications to preserve a party's rights before the commencement of a trial

  6. If the defendant filed a defence, but it does not contain any reasonable points, can the plaintiff apply for a "fast judgment" without going through a trial?
  7. The trial has not yet commenced but the defendant's wrongdoing has already caused some damage to the plaintiff. What can the plaintiff do to stop the defendant's wrongdoing in the meantime?
  8. What can the plaintiff do if the defendant is likely to dispose of his assets improperly before the case proceeds to trial?
  9. What can the plaintiff do if he wants to enter the defendant's premises to search for and seize certain documents or property before the case proceeds to trial?
  10. What can the plaintiff do to reduce financial hardship during the period from the commencement of legal action up to the date of trial? Is it possible for the plaintiff to obtain some compensation from the defendant before the conclusion of the case?
  11. If the defendant wins the case, part of his legal costs may be recovered from the plaintiff. What can the defendant do if he is worried that, in the event of defeating the plaintiff's claim, the plaintiff would be unable to meet any order for legal costs made at the trial?

  12. Disposing of or settling a civil action before proceeding to a trial

  13. Can I settle my dispute out of court even if legal action has already commenced?
  14. What should parties to a civil case know about “sanctioned offers” and “sanctioned payments” ?
  15. Consequence of acceptance of “sanctioned offer” and “sanctioned payment”
  16. Consequence of non-acceptance of “sanctioned offer” and “sanctioned payment”
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