Defendant's obligations when drafting a defence

Defendant's obligations when drafting a defence

The Court of Appeal in SPI North Ltd v Swiss Post International (UK) Ltd and another company [2019] EWCA Civ 7 dealt with a novel question of principle regarding CPR 16.5(1)(b)—the defendant being required to state which allegations he is ‘unable to admit or deny’ in the defence.

The Court of Appeal held that

‘a defendant is “unable to admit or deny” an allegation within the meaning of rule 16.5(1)(b) where the truth or falsity of the allegation is neither within his actual knowledge (including attributed knowledge in the case of a corporate defendant) nor capable of rapid ascertainment from documents or other sources of information at his ready disposal. In particular, there is no general obligation to make reasonable enquiries of third parties at this very early stage of the litigation’.

Subscribers to Lexis®PSL Dispute Resolution can access the following news analysis which considers the judgment and its practical implications: Defendant’s obligations in filing a defence (SPI North Ltd v Swiss Post International (UK) Ltd)

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About the author:

Melissa is a member of the LexisPSL Dispute Resolution team.  She focuses on the law and practice of commercial litigation with a particular interest in the procedural aspects of starting and managing civil claims up to and including trial.