Define: Plea In Reconvention

Plea In Reconvention
Plea In Reconvention
Quick Summary of Plea In Reconvention

In civil cases, a plea in reconvention is when the defendant files a counterclaim against the plaintiff. This means that the defendant is not only defending themselves against the plaintiff’s claim, but they are also making their own claim against the plaintiff. For instance, if a plaintiff sues a defendant for breach of contract, the defendant may file a plea in reconvention by counterclaiming that the plaintiff also breached the contract. This allows the defendant to not only defend themselves but also to seek damages from the plaintiff. This practice is common in civil law systems, particularly in Louisiana, and is also referred to as a “compensatory plea” or “set-off plea.”

What is the dictionary definition of Plea In Reconvention?
Dictionary Definition of Plea In Reconvention

When someone accused of a crime declares their guilt or innocence, it is known as a plea. Additionally, they may choose to neither contest nor admit guilt. If the accused person also makes a claim against their accuser, it is referred to as a plea in reconvention. Various types of pleas exist, such as a guilty plea, where the accused confesses to the crime, or a not-guilty plea, where they deny any wrongdoing. A plea bargain occurs when the accused and prosecutor reach an agreement on a plea. Occasionally, a plea may be conditional, allowing the accused to appeal if necessary. In civil cases, a plea is a response to a claim made against an individual.

Full Definition Of Plea In Reconvention

A plea in reconvention, also known as a counterclaim, is a defensive legal action taken by a defendant in response to a plaintiff’s claim. This mechanism allows the defendant not only to defend against the plaintiff’s original claim but also to assert their own claim against the plaintiff within the same judicial proceeding. This legal construct ensures efficiency and economy in litigation by addressing all related claims between the parties in one trial, avoiding multiple lawsuits.

Historical Context and Evolution

The concept of reconvention has roots in civil law traditions, particularly in Roman law, where it was essential to deal with mutual claims in a single forum. Over time, this concept was incorporated into various legal systems, including common-law jurisdictions, albeit with some adaptations. In England, the counterclaim was formally recognised in the Judicature Acts of the 1870s, which aimed to consolidate various legal actions and simplify procedures.

Legal Framework in England and Wales

In England and Wales, the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) govern the procedure for counterclaims. Under Part 20 of the CPR, a counterclaim allows a defendant to make a claim against the claimant or any other party. This is distinct from a defence, which merely contests the plaintiff’s claim.

Key Provisions
  1. Permission to File: According to CPR 20.4, a defendant may file a counterclaim without the court’s permission if it is done at the same time as serving the defence. If the counterclaim is to be made after the defence has been served, the defendant must seek the court’s permission.
  2. Nature of the Counterclaim: The counterclaim can be related to the subject matter of the original claim or it can be entirely unrelated. This broad allowance ensures that all disputes between the parties can be resolved in a single proceeding.
  3. Procedure: The defendant must file a counterclaim form, usually following the format of the particulars of the claim, detailing the facts and legal basis for the counterclaim. This document must be served to all relevant parties.
  4. Responses to Counterclaims: The claimant (now counter-defendant) must respond to the counterclaim by filing a defence to a counterclaim. The procedural rules governing this response mirror those applicable to the original claim.
  5. Judicial Management: The court has the discretion to manage counterclaims to ensure just, expeditious, and economical resolution. This includes the power to strike out frivolous or vexatious counterclaims, consolidate trials, or direct separate trials for the claim and counterclaim if appropriate.

Strategic Considerations

  1. Efficiency: Pleading a counterclaim consolidates litigation, reducing the need for multiple lawsuits and thus saving time and resources for both the parties and the judiciary.
  2. Leverage: A counterclaim can provide a strategic advantage by placing the plaintiff on the defensive, potentially leading to a more favourable settlement.
  3. Judicial Economy: Resolving all related disputes in a single proceeding ensures that the court system is used efficiently, preventing duplication of efforts.
  1. Complexity: Managing a case involving a counterclaim can become procedurally complex, requiring careful attention to procedural rules and timelines.
  2. Increased Costs: While overall litigation costs may be reduced, the initial costs might increase due to the additional preparation required for filing and defending a counterclaim.
  3. Risk of Prejudice: There is a potential for the counterclaim to complicate the original claim, possibly prejudicing the judge or jury against the counterclaimant.

Jurisprudential Analysis

Numerous cases have shaped the understanding and application of counterclaims in England and Wales. Key cases illustrate various principles:

  1. Permissive vs. Compulsory Counterclaims: Unlike some jurisdictions where certain counterclaims must be brought if related to the plaintiff’s claim, English law does not mandate compulsory counterclaims. This allows greater flexibility but requires strategic decision-making by defendants.
  2. Set-off: The interaction between counterclaims and set-off (equitable or legal) has been elaborated in case law. For instance, in Hanak v. Green [1958] 2 QB 9, the Court of Appeal discussed the circumstances under which a set-off could be used as a defence versus a counterclaim.
  3. Counterclaims Against Non-Parties: In Cabana v. Huddersfield [2002] EWCA Civ 1226, the Court of Appeal addressed the permissibility of counterclaims against parties not originally named in the lawsuit, underscoring the broad scope of CPR Part 20.

Comparative Perspective

In contrast to the English approach, other jurisdictions handle counterclaims with varying degrees of compulsion and procedural integration.

  1. United States: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) distinguish between compulsory counterclaims (those arising out of the same transaction or occurrence) and permissive counterclaims (those not arising out of the same transaction or occurrence). Compulsory counterclaims must be filed or they are waived.
  2. Civil Law Systems: Many civil law jurisdictions, such as France and Germany, integrate reconvention as part of their procedural codes but often with stricter requirements regarding the connection between the original claim and the counterclaim.

Procedural Steps for Filing a Plea in Reconvention

  1. Drafting the Counterclaim: The defendant drafts a counterclaim outlining the factual and legal grounds for the claim against the plaintiff. This document must be comprehensive, clearly setting out the nature of the defendant’s claim.
  2. Filing with the Court: The counterclaim is filed alongside the defence unless court permission is obtained for a later filing. This step ensures that both the court and the plaintiff are formally notified.
  3. Serving the Counterclaim: The service of the counterclaim on the plaintiff is mandatory, following the same procedural rules as the original claim. This ensures the plaintiff has the opportunity to respond.
  4. Responding to the Counterclaim: The plaintiff must file a defence to the counterclaim, addressing each allegation made by the defendant. This response is crucial for framing the issues to be resolved in court.
  5. Case Management: The court will manage the case, potentially scheduling case management conferences, setting timelines for the exchange of evidence, and deciding on any preliminary issues.
  6. Trial: Both the original claim and the counterclaim are heard together unless the court orders otherwise. This integrated trial allows for a holistic resolution of the disputes.
  7. Judgement: The court delivers judgement on both the claim and counterclaim, potentially granting relief to both parties if warranted.


The plea in reconvention, or counterclaim, is a vital component of civil litigation in England and Wales, offering defendants a powerful tool to assert their claims within the same proceedings initiated by the plaintiff. By consolidating disputes, counterclaims promote judicial efficiency and can strategically benefit defendants. However, they also introduce complexities and potential risks that require careful navigation. Understanding the procedural nuances and strategic implications of counterclaims is essential for effective legal practice and ensures that all parties can adequately present and defend their positions in court.

Plea In Reconvention FAQ'S

A plea in reconvention is a legal term used in civil law jurisdictions to refer to a defendant’s counterclaim against the plaintiff in a lawsuit.

A plea in reconvention can be filed by the defendant at the same time as their initial response to the plaintiff’s claim, or it can be filed later in the proceedings.

The purpose of filing a plea in reconvention is for the defendant to assert their own claims against the plaintiff, which may be related to the same facts and circumstances of the original lawsuit.

A plea in reconvention can include any claims that the defendant has against the plaintiff, such as breach of contract, negligence, or other legal violations.

In common law jurisdictions, a plea in reconvention is similar to a counterclaim, but there may be some procedural and substantive differences.

A plea in reconvention is typically only available in civil law jurisdictions, and may not be applicable in common law jurisdictions.

The plaintiff must respond to the defendant’s plea in reconvention by filing their own response and potentially amending their original complaint to address the new claims.

A plea in reconvention can be dismissed by the court if it is found to be without merit or if it does not meet the legal requirements for filing a counterclaim.

Filing a plea in reconvention can significantly impact the course of the lawsuit, as it introduces new claims and potentially expands the scope of the legal proceedings.

It is highly recommended to consult with a lawyer before filing a plea in reconvention, as the legal process can be complex and it is important to ensure that the claims being asserted are valid and legally sound.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 8th June 2024.

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