Last year we looked at those things that caused litigators stress and fear. This year we are looking at annoying things from “the other side”. That can mean from beyond the grave, or those people who are instructed to represent your client’s opponents (they may sometimes feel to be one and the same).  These are a few of the things that have come up on Twitter. More ideals are welcome – on Twitter or the comments section of this blog.

Phrases I hate when reading a Defence: “The Particulars of Claim are embarrassing in their want of particularity.” It usually means “I am engaging in cheap point-scoring for my client whilst implying that I would have padded a 5-page PoC out to 20.”

This gives me an idea for another Halloween special. “Things you hate to see in the other side’s pleading or correspondence.” (A reminder from last year )


I’ll start. A 20 page letter setting out every contentious proposition as if it were fact, imposing a unilateral deadline of 6 hours for a response and ending “kindly do not litigate this matter in the correspondence”.

7.45am. 10 page letter headed “First Letter” 9.15am. 15 page letter headed “Second Letter”. Complaining, inter alia, about lack of response to “First Letter” and so it goes on …


A 60 page witness statement.

Sent at 5:15 on Friday afternoon…

The novella to which I’m drafting a Defence & CC at the moment. Multiple averments, many of which should be in a witness statement rather than a pleading. Just stopped myself referring to numbered things in the Particulars of Claim as “Chapters” rather than “Paragraphs”.


Parties trying to make their problem your priority – eg on day before due to serve/exchange a document announcing not yet ready asking for consent to extension of time by return or they “will draw the correspondence to the attention of the court”.

The phrase ‘traversed seriatim ‘

As if they were herein set out and…

Use of Latin never fails to irritate me, maybe that’s why they do it

cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

“The defence is embarrassing in its paucity”

People actually put statements like that in formal pleadings?

“You will have our full reply to your letter momentarily”

And then a moment later it will have disappeared!!

The proper reply is “We hope you will let us keep it for long enough to take a copy”

Otiose. Just call me thick and be honest about it.

When they suggest you are “unhelpful”

‘Your failure to agree to our application for relief from sanction will be brought to the court’s attention on the qu. of costs, which we will seek from your firm on the indemnity basis”

Always disliked the use of the phrase’the same’at the end of a sentence & hated ‘resile’ – the phrase ‘we would never resile from the same’ would have me running for cover ! Also the word vituperation came up in some instructions didn’t like that either !

My favourite Defence received included the words “portmanteau” and “jurisprudentially”

‘Traversed’ and ‘seriatim’


The needless and often inaccurate use of “we reserve the right” – if you’ve got a right, no need to reserve it. If you haven’t, don’t bother.

I’ve just pleaded to a building dispute started in the infamous Online Court. While it’s fair to say that pleading against a litigant in person is tough at the best of times, the structure of the online form makes it nigh on impossible to plead a properly focused defence 1/2

This sort of innovation merely perpetuates the faults in pleading others have so elegantly identified. Soon we’ll start cases with Initial Witness Statement followed by First Substantive Witness Statement and so in. I feel sorry for the poor Judges. 2/2

I have one: Turning up to a JSM simply to tell us they have no offers to make. Lovely.


A late contender from *****s who have made reference to a wasted costs order in their first e mail to me. Charming. All I’ve done is to issue Part 8 proceedings in a portal claim. Fee earner there is described as a Legal Reviewer, whatever that means.

I regularly get threats of applications, wasted costs all kinds of nasty stuff in e mails asking me to AGREE an extension of time. Quite extraordinary


    My oppo to a circuit judge in a county court somewhere near Manchester in the 1980’s: “I don’t rely on this in terrorem”. Judge to oppo: “That’s good because I have no idea what you are talking about


    “We were surprised that your letter fails to…”. Translation: we were not at all surprised that your letter wasn’t as good as ours, because our client has considerably more money than yours.