The Importance of Naming the Proper Parties in a Lawsuit

One of the most common mistakes made in drafting pleadings by both self represented individuals and legal representatives is failing to correctly name or spell the party’s name.

Some legal representatives are too lazy to conduct a few searches to make sure they name the proper party in hopes that the party being sued will correct them.  Self represented individuals may not know any better.

When I proceed with a claim against a Corporation, the first thing I do is obtain a Corporation Profile Report – this allows me to confirm the legal name of that Corporation.

Some Corporations operate using a business or trade name.  In that case, I would do a Business Names Search to find out the name of the Corporation that owns that business or trade name.

When you enter into a contract with a company that uses a trade name, rather than a Corporation name or number, make sure you get that information upfront – the more you know about them now will help you (and your lawyer/paralegal) in the future.

Another mistake people make when naming parties is spelling the name of that company or individual correctly. 

So, what are the repercussions of naming the party incorrectly or not spelling their name right?

Well, if you obtain a judgment against them, your judgment is useless.

A judgment with the debtor’s name spelt wrong, or the legal entity who owns a business trade name left out of the judgment cannot be successfully enforced.

If you attempt to garnish a bank account of a company or individual and the name on your judgment is not the same as the name on the account, the bank will simply return your Garnishee’s Statement with a stamp that says “no account holder at this branch by that name.”

What would you have to do to fix your mistake? 

You would need to bring a Motion to set aside your judgment and obtain leave to amend your Plaintiff’s Claim and start all over again.

This is not only time consuming, but it wastes money and resources.  It also allows your debtor the opportunity to switch banks, hide assets and potentially disappear, making the enforcement of your judgment a lot harder.

Make sure you know who you are suing, you spell their name right and if it is a corporation, include the corporate name in addition to the business name and you better your chances at enforcing your judgment.

Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal