Define: Rejoinder

Quick Summary of Rejoinder

In common-law pleading, a rejoinder is the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s reply or replication. For instance, if a plaintiff files a complaint against a defendant, the defendant can file an answer. If the plaintiff then files a reply to the defendant’s answer, the defendant can file a rejoinder in response to the plaintiff’s reply. Here’s an example:

Plaintiff: The defendant owes me $10,000 for services rendered.
Defendant: I deny owing the plaintiff any money.
Plaintiff: The defendant did agree to pay me for my services.
Defendant: I did not agree to pay the plaintiff for their services, and their services were unsatisfactory.
Plaintiff: The defendant did agree to pay me, and my services were satisfactory.
Defendant: I deny ever agreeing to pay the plaintiff, and I maintain that their services were unsatisfactory.

In this example, the plaintiff’s third statement is a reply to the defendant’s second statement. The defendant’s fourth statement is a rejoinder to the plaintiff’s reply.

What is the dictionary definition of Rejoinder?
Dictionary Definition of Rejoinder

In common-law pleading, a rejoinder refers to the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s reply or replication in a legal case.

Full Definition Of Rejoinder

In legal contexts, the term ‘rejoinder’ is a part of the complex system of legal pleadings within an adversarial legal framework. To fully understand its role and implications, one must explore the broader context of pleadings, the stages of litigation, and the specific function that a rejoinder serves within this system. This overview will provide a thorough examination of the concept, historical background, procedural aspects, strategic significance, and implications of the rejoinder in the British legal system.

Historical Background

The concept of rejoinder has its roots in medieval English law, evolving from the common law system established after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The early common law courts developed a structured method for parties to present their arguments, known as pleadings. Initially, these pleadings were oral, but over time, they became more formalised and written.

In medieval times, the plaintiff’s declaration came first, then the defendant’s plea. The plaintiff could respond with a replication, to which the defendant could reply with a rejoinder. This iterative process could continue with surrejoinders, rebutters, and surrebutters, although such extended pleadings are rare in modern practice. The formalisation and codification of these procedures have significantly evolved, but the foundational principles remain embedded in current practice.

Definition and Role of Rejoinder

A rejoinder is a defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s replication. In essence, it is the second pleading the defendant has submitted in response to the plaintiff’s assertion. The purpose of the rejoinder is to address and counter any new facts or arguments introduced by the plaintiff in their replication.

Under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), which govern civil litigation in England and Wales, the structure of pleadings is designed to ensure that both parties clearly understand each other’s case and the issues in dispute. While the formal names of pleadings such as “rejoinder” have largely fallen out of common usage with the CPR’s introduction in 1999, the functional equivalent remains.

Procedural Aspects

1. Initial Pleadings:

  • Claim Form and Particulars of Claim: The litigation process begins when the claimant files a claim form, accompanied by the particulars of the claim outlining the basis of the claim.
  • Defence: The defendant responds with a defence, setting out their version of the facts and any legal defences to the claim.

2. Reply:

  • Replication: If the claimant chooses to reply to the defence, they file a reply, which may introduce new facts or arguments not previously covered.

3. Rejoinder:

  • Rejoinder (Defendant’s Second Pleading): The defendant can then file a rejoinder, responding specifically to the new points raised in the claimant’s reply.

Strategic Importance

The strategic significance of a rejoinder lies in its ability to refine the issues in dispute. By addressing the points raised in the replication, the rejoinder can:

  1. Clarify the Issues: The rejoinder helps to clarify the precise points of contention between the parties. This clarity is crucial for both the court and the parties to understand the scope and nature of the dispute.
  2. Strengthen the Defence: By countering the new facts or arguments presented by the claimant, the rejoinder can reinforce the defendant’s position.
  3. Narrow the Dispute: The iterative process of pleadings aims to narrow the issues to those genuinely in dispute, facilitating a more efficient resolution.

Legal Framework

The CPR specifies rules for the modern equivalents of pleadings, including the rejoinder, in order to speed up the litigation process. Key rules include:

CPR Part 16 (Statements of Case):

  • This part outlines the requirements for the particulars of the claim, defence, reply, and other statements of the case. While it does not explicitly mention rejoinders, it provides the framework within which all pleadings operate.

CPR Part 15 (Defence and Reply):

  • Part 15 specifically addresses the requirements for filing a defence and a reply, implicitly allowing for further pleadings, such as rejoinders, where necessary.

Implications of Rejoinder

1. Case Management:

  • The rejoinder plays a critical role in case management, assisting the court in understanding the issues and managing the litigation process efficiently. It ensures that the defendant has a fair opportunity to respond to all allegations and arguments presented by the claimant.

2. Procedural Fairness:

  • The rejoinder upholds the principle of procedural fairness by allowing the defendant to address any new matters raised in the replication. This ensures that both parties have an equal opportunity to present their case.

3. Judicial Economy:

  • By narrowing the issues and clarifying the points of dispute, the rejoinder contributes to the judicial economy. It helps to avoid unnecessary hearings and focuses the trial on the key issues, potentially reducing the duration and cost of litigation.

Modern Context

While the traditional terminology of pleadings, such as “rejoinder,” is less commonly used in the modern context, the underlying principles remain relevant. The CPR has introduced a more flexible and streamlined approach to pleadings, emphasising efficiency and clarity.

1. Statements of Case:

  • The modern equivalent of the rejoinder falls within the broader category of statements of case. These include the particulars of claim, defence, reply, and any subsequent pleadings necessary to address new issues.

2. Case Management Conferences (CMCs):

  • The CPR promotes active case management by the courts, with CMCs playing a crucial role. During these conferences, the court can address the need for further pleadings and ensure that the litigation process remains focused and efficient.


In conclusion, the rejoinder is a vital component of the pleadings process within the British legal system. Its historical roots and procedural function underscore its importance in ensuring a fair and efficient resolution of disputes. While the terminology and specific procedures have evolved under the CPR, the fundamental principles of clarity, fairness, and judicial economy continue to guide the use of rejoinders and their modern equivalents. By providing a structured method for defendants to respond to new allegations and arguments, the rejoinder plays a crucial role in the adversarial system, ensuring that justice is served through a balanced and transparent process.

Rejoinder FAQ'S

A rejoinder is a legal term used to describe a written response or reply to a pleading or claim made by the opposing party in a lawsuit. It allows the party who filed the original pleading to address and counter any arguments or allegations made by the opposing party.

A rejoinder is typically filed after the opposing party has filed their response to the original pleading. It is usually the final opportunity for the party who filed the original pleading to present their arguments and counter any claims made by the opposing party.

A rejoinder should include a clear and concise response to each argument or allegation made by the opposing party. It should also provide supporting evidence or legal authority to strengthen the party’s position.

No, a rejoinder is not mandatory in every legal case. It depends on the specific rules and procedures of the jurisdiction in which the case is being heard. In some cases, the court may allow parties to file a rejoinder, while in others it may not be required.

Generally, a rejoinder is not the appropriate stage to introduce new evidence. Its purpose is to respond to the opposing party’s arguments and allegations, rather than presenting new evidence. However, there may be exceptions depending on the specific rules and procedures of the jurisdiction.

If a party fails to file a rejoinder within the specified time frame or as required by the court, they may lose the opportunity to respond to the opposing party’s arguments. The court may proceed with the case based on the available pleadings and evidence, potentially resulting in an unfavorable outcome for the non-responsive party.

In some cases, a rejoinder can be amended or modified if there is a valid reason to do so. However, the ability to amend or modify a rejoinder may be subject to the court’s discretion and the specific rules of the jurisdiction.

Yes, a rejoinder can be withdrawn if the party who filed it decides to no longer pursue the arguments or claims made in the rejoinder. However, it is important to consult with an attorney and follow the proper procedures for withdrawing a rejoinder to avoid any negative consequences.

A rejoinder itself is not typically used as evidence in court. Its purpose is to respond to the opposing party’s arguments and allegations. However, the arguments and evidence presented in a rejoinder may be used to support the party’s case during the trial or other stages of the legal proceedings.

The time it takes for a rejoinder to be reviewed by the court can vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, the court’s caseload, and the specific rules and procedures of the jurisdiction. It is advisable to consult with an attorney to get a better understanding of the expected timeline in a particular case.

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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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