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This is merely for your information. Your attorney should have the necessary skills and training to advise you on what consitutes substantial problems in your spouse's plea and what can safely be ignored.

Plea


The plea is the Defendant’s answer to the Plaintiff’s particulars of claim. The Defendant must use the plea to answer each and every allegation of the Plaintiff and to set out his or her defence clearly.

Your spouse has to deliver his or her plea to you and to the Registrar of the Court within 20 court days of the date on which he or she delivered his or her Notice of Intention to Defend to you.

Along with the plea, your spouse may deliver a special plea and / or counterclaim, but those aspects are dealt with elsewhere.

Your spouse has to answer to your allegations by making:

  • admissions
  • denials
  • confessions and avoidance
  • non-admissions and
  • stating multiple and/or alternative defences.

Your spouse will answer to each allegation in your particulars of claim by referring to the specific paragraph and then using one of the above to answer to the allegation. To explain the difference between these, short descriptions and examples follow:
Admissions:
The Defendant should admit those facts alleged by the Plaintiff which are not in dispute.  The Defendant can only admit to an allegation if he or she acknowledges and accepts that allegation.  Any allegation in the Plaintiff’s particulars of claim which is not specifically dealt with in the plea will be considered to be admitted.

Once the Defendant have admitted an allegation that admission stands.  If he or she wishes to withdraw the admission at a later stage he or she will have to file a notice of amendment with a supporting affidavit. The Court has to approve the amendment and will not grant such an amendment lightly. It is therefore very important for the Defendant to make sure that he or she only admit those facts which really are not in dispute.

Example of an admission
AD PARAGRAPH 3:
The contents of this paragraph are admitted.

Denials:
If the Defendant disputes an allegation made by the Plaintiff, he or she must deny that allegation in his or her plea.  A denial is regarded as a sufficient reply to an allegation, but if a denial also includes a defence. the facts in support thereof must be included – otherwise it could amount to a ‘bare denial’ and be prejudicial to the Defendant.

Example of a denial that does not include a defence
AD PARAGRAPH 6.3
The contents of this paragraph are denied.

Example of a denial that does include a defence
AD PARAGRAPH 6.4
The contents of this paragraph are denied and the Defendant specifically pleads that it is the Plaintiff who conducted an adulterous relationship with a certain Mr X.

If the Plaintiff’s allegation contains several facts the Defendant must make sure that it is clear which of those facts he or she denies and which he or she admits or whether he or she is denying all of the facts.

Example of a denial where only certain of the alleged facts are denied
The Plaintiff’s allegation reads as follows: “The Plaintiff and Defendant married each other in community of property at Pretoria on the 9th of January 2004, which marriage still subsists.”

AD PARAGRAPH 4
The Defendant denies that he married the Plaintiff in community of property and specifically pleads that the parties were married out of community of property with the exclusion of the accrual system at Pretoria on the 9th of January 2004 and that the marriage still subsists.

Confession and avoidance:
This is when the Defendant admits an allegation, but allege some other fact which destroys the legal consequences of the Plaintiff’s allegation.

Non-admissions:
The Defendant may make a non-admission when the Plaintiff makes an allegation which does not fall within the Defendant’s personal knowledge.

Example of a non-admission
AD PARAGRAPH 6.8
The Defendant has no knowledge of the allegations contained in this paragraph and can therefore not admit or deny such allegations and puts the Plaintiff to the proof thereof.

Multiple and alternative defences:
The Defendant may plead multiple defences to the Plaintiff’s claim, provided that they are clearly distinguished from each other.

Example of multiple defences
AD PARAGRAPH 6
The Defendant pleads that the marriage has not broken down irretrievably for the following reasons:

  1. The Defendant still loves the Plaintiff;
  2. The Defendant is seeking help with his dependence on drugs and has not used any drugs for the last six months.

The Defendant may also state more than one defence in the alternative if those defences are not mutually destructive.

Example of an alternative defence
AD PARAGRAPH 6
The Defendant pleads that the marriage has not broken down irretrievably for the following reasons:
1.      The Defendant still loves the Plaintiff;
2.      The Defendant is seeking help with his dependence on drugs and has not used any drugs for the last six months.

Alternatively,

If the Court finds that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, the Defendant pleads that it is not due to the defendant’s behaviour, but due to the following reasons:

  1. The Plaintiff argues constantly with the Defendant;
  2. The Plaintiff does not contribute financially to the joint household at all.
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