Amending court documents – Queensland Courts

Sometimes in civil proceedings, you may want to amend one of your court documents. This factsheet tells you how to amend your court documents.

Similarly, the other party might amend one of their court documents, for example their statement of claim. This factsheet tells you how to respond.

Amending a court document

Under the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (UCPR) the court can allow an amendment of a claim, a pleading, an application or any other document.

There are six limits on the ability of a party to amend a document:

  1. To amend an “originating process” you need the leave of the court (rule 377(1)). If the amendments are technical or if you haven’t yet served the plaintiff then a Registrar can give that leave. An originating process is a Claim, Originating Application or a Notice of Appeal.
  2. If you are amending a document so that you are adding a new party, changing the capacity in which a party is suing, or claiming a new cause of action, and the limitation date for your cause of action has expired, you will need to seek the leave of the court to make the amendment (rule 376).
  3. Once a request for trial date has been filed, you need the leave of the court to amend any court documents (rules 380 and 470(a)). The courts can be quite strict on allowing amendments to documents during the course of a trial so it is best to bring any applications well in advance of the court hearing.
  4. While you can amend, the other party can ask that you pay their costs of responding to the amendment (rule 386).
  5. If you are amending your Defence, and if your Defence made any deemed admissions, then the plaintiff might object to you amending your Defence to effectually withdraw your deemed admissions, unless you first seek the leave of the court to withdraw an admission (rule 166(1)).
    • In that case, we recommend that you write to the plaintiff’s lawyers, provide them with a copy of your amended Defence, and ask them if they agree to those amendments without the need (and cost) of applying to the court for leave to amend or withdraw those admissions.
    • If they don’t agree, then you can bring an application to the court using a form 9 application and a form 46 affidavit. You should exhibit your letter to the plaintiff to your affidavit.
  6. You should always bear in mind rule 5 of the UCPR. This rule requires a party to court proceedings to proceed quickly and efficiently to resolve their dispute. While on one reading of rule 378, a party can amend a document as many times as they like before a request for trial date is filed, this has got to be considered in light of the overall purpose and philosophy of the UCPR.
    • In any event, repeated amendments of documents, while sometimes necessary, become very difficult to read and are confusing for not only the other party, but also for the judge hearing your case.

How to amend

To amend court documents you need a copy of the original document to work from.

You can not just add and remove material from the documents. Additions and deletions need to be clearly shown and distinguishable (rule 382).

You should underline new material.

You should rule a line through material that you are no longer relying on.

E.g. The Defendant was the registered owner of the property at 100 Green Street, Brisbane in the State of Queensland, being described as Lot 1 on Survey Plan 12 345 12 346 Parish of Brisbane County of Stanley in the State of Queensland.

If you are amending a document that has already been amended, then on the front page of the document that you have amended you should:

  1. amend the title of the document; and
  2. write down the left hand side of the page, “Amended pursuant to the order of [INSERT NAME OF JUDGE] dated [INSERT DATE OF ORDER]” if a judge made an order for the amendment, otherwise “Amended pursuant to rule 378 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999.” In both cases, you also need to sign and date this notation (rule 382).

Amending out of time

The court has a general discretion to allow amendments that have been made after the limitation date that applies has expired. You can find more information by reading LawRight’s factsheet Limitation periods.

The court’s approach has been to allow these amendments where the new cause of action arises out of “substantially the same facts” that have previously been pleaded. This means that if the amendments change the cause of action you are relying on, but you are still using the same facts that you pleaded in your initial statement of claim, then the court is more likely to allow an amendment even if it is out of time: Draney v Barry [202] 1 QdR 145.

Responding to an amendment

If you receive an amended document from the other party, you should consider if you need to respond to it.

For example, if you receive an Amended Statement of Claim that amends the amounts of damages that the plaintiff is claiming, but your existing Defence responds to the allegations that have been made, then you may not need to amend (rule 385(3)).

On the other hand if the Amended Statement of Claim raises new allegations that are not responded to by your Defence, then you can respond by amending your Defence.

Under rule 385(2) of the UCPR a response to an amended pleading is due eight days after the amended pleading was served on you. This is the case even where an Amended Statement of Claim is served, and means that you can have very little time in which to respond to an amended pleading.

You can also respond to an amended pleading, by applying to disallow the amendments (rule 379).