Rule 444 Letters

In Queensland, if a defendant to a proceeding believes the plaintiff has not provided enough information in a statement of claim for the defendant to be able to respond adequately, the defendant may send a “request for further and better particulars”. This is called a rule 444 letter, named after the rule in the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld) (the UCPR) which allows such a request.

The letter will commonly ask for information such as email correspondence, bank statements, or other documents mentioned in the statement of claim, or ask for clarification on parts of the statement.

If the defendant does not adequately respond in their defence or counterclaim to allegations raised in the statement of claim, the plaintiff can then issue a rule 444 letter to the defendant.

Further and better particulars

In any civil proceeding, it is important the parties identify all the issues in dispute at a minimum of time and expense. If a party does not respond to a rule 444 letter, a court can make an order that requires that party to provide further and better particulars.

Court orders

A party can apply to a court for an order if:

  • the party seeks further and better particulars from the opposing party;1
  • the party seeks direction from the court about the progress of the matter;2 or
  • the opposing party has failed to comply with directions or a court order.3

However, prior to applying to the court, the party must provide a rule 444 letter to the other party. The objective of the letter is to alert the other party to the complaints and provide the other party with an opportunity to remedy or respond to the complaints. This effectively obviates the need to apply for a court order.4

Requirements of a rule 444 letter

A rule 444 letter must state:5

  1. the complaint;
  2. the relevant facts;
  3. the relief that is being sought;
  4. the reasons the applicant is entitled to the relief;
  5. a period in which the respondent must reply to the letter, being at least three business days from the date of the letter; and
  6. that the letter is written under chapter 11, part 8 of the UCPR.

A rule 444 letter is exempt from the usual rules of service and may be sent via fax.6

A copy of the letter must be sent to everyone the applicant would be required to serve or notify if the applicant was applying to a court.7 This requirement is waived in circumstances when doing so may cause undue delay, expense or inconvenience to the applicant.8 The letter must also list all people to whom a copy of the letter is to be sent.9

Respondent’s reply

The respondent needs to reply to the applicant by letter within the nominated timeframe.10 The reply should either comply with the matters raised or contest the entitlement to relief being sought.

The respondent’s reply must state:

  1. that the letter is written under rule 445 in response to the applicant’s rule 444 letter;11
  2. the actions, if any, that the respondent intends to undertake in response to the applicant’s complaint;12 and
  3. the reasons, if any, the applicant is not entitled to the relief sought.13

If the applicant is unsatisfied with the response, they can then apply to the court for an order.

Documents required for a court application

To make an application to the court, a party will need to prepare a Form 9 application which should detail the relief sought and reflect the rule 444 letter. It should also have an affidavit (Form 46) attached which contains a copy of the letter and the reply from the respondent.

Contact Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers

A rule 444 letter is basically a letter that is sent to a party that requests further information be provided. Contact Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers today about your rule 444 letter, for a free and confidential consultation discussing your legal rights and options.

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The content of this publication is intended as general commentary only and may not be suitable or applicable to your personal circumstances. It is not intended to replace independent legal advice. You can contact us at our Brisbane Office for a free consultation on a range of litigation matters on (07) 3088 6364.

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