New York Appellate Associate Dean Pillarella wrote an article for the New York Law Journal titled “The Informal Appearance, Its Origins, Instances, and Impact.” The article discusses the concept of an “informal appearance” in New York law, which occurs when a defendant participates in a case in some way relating to the merits or substantially participates in the litigation, without officially making a formal appearance under CPLR 320(a). The article traces the origin of the informal appearance to the distinction between “general” and “specific” appearance before the enactment of the CPLR in 1963, and provides examples of what constitutes an informal appearance and what does not. The impact of an informal appearance varies depending on when it occurs in relation to the CPLR’s time to appear, but it can prevent a default judgment or waive jurisdictional objections. Mr. Pillarella cautions defense attorneys to be careful when dealing with informal appearances, as they can inadvertently waive a defendant’s rights if they are not handled properly.
According to the article, examples of actions that may constitute an informal appearance include participating in motion practice, participating in discovery, and sending a letter to the court. In contrast, engaging in settlement negotiations, filing a motion for leave to serve an untimely answer, or making informal requests for information generally do not constitute an informal appearance. The article emphasizes that whether an action constitutes an informal appearance depends on whether the defendant has participated on the merits or demonstrated an intent to substantially participate in the case.
Original Article can be found HERE