Counterclaim in Illinois Circuit Court–At A Glance

Use this “At A Glance Guide” to learn the statewide rules of civil procedure (Illinois Compiled Statutes and Illinois Supreme Court Rules)  applicable to counterclaims in Illinois Circuit Court.  For a more detailed treatment, including local rules and general pleading rules, please see the Illinois Circuit Court SmartRules Guide:  Counterclaim.


 The counterclaim must be made as part of the answer. 735 ILCS 5/2-608(b).  In actions where a specific appearance date is not required by statute, local rule or Supreme Court rule, the summons should require each defendant to file his answer/counterclaim or otherwise appear in the action within 30 days. IL Supreme Court R. 101(d).

The Illinois courts are liberal in exercising the discretion granted them to extend the time to answer or otherwise plead for good cause shown. Such extensions may be granted to allow for the filing of motions for involuntary dismissal, motions to transfer, requests for more particular statement, or otherwise. IL Supreme Court R. 183.

A party who appears in an action without having been served with a summons is required to plead within the same time as if the summons had been served on the appearance date. IL Supreme Court R. 13(b).

Answers by parties already before the court to counterclaims must be filed within twenty-one (21) days after the last day for filing the counterclaim. IL Supreme Court R. 182(b). An answer to a counterclaim and pleadings subsequent thereto must be filed as in the case of a complaint and with like designation and effect. 735 ILCS 5/2-608(d).

Illinois Counterclaim Rules:

Under the Illinois rules, the term “counterclaim” includes any claim brought by one or more defendants against one or more plaintiffs, or against one or more codefendants. 735 ILCS 5/2-608(a). While the Federal Rules reserve the term “counterclaim” for a claim brought against a plaintiff, and use the term “cross-claim” to refer to a claim brought against a codefendant, the Illinois rules use the term “counterclaim” to refer to both types of claims.

There is no compulsory counterclaim rule in Illinois. In contrast to the Federal Rules, the Illinois rules provide only for permissive counterclaims. See 735 ILCS 5/2-608(a).

Any claim by one or more defendants against one or more plaintiffs or against one or more co-defendants, whether in the nature of setoff, recoupment, cross claim, or otherwise, and whether in tort or contract, or for liquidated or un-liquidated damages, or any other relief, may be brought as a counterclaim. 735 ILCS 5/2-608(a).

Counterclaims must be pled in the same manner and with the same particularity as the complaint and other pleadings. The counterclaim must be complete in itself, but may incorporate by specific reference allegations set forth in the answer. 735 ILCS 5/2-608(c).

A counterclaim must be designated as a counterclaim. 735 ILCS 5/2-608(b).

The plaintiff may at any time before trial or hearing begins, upon notice to each party who has appeared or each such party’s attorney, and upon payment of costs, dismiss his or her action or any part thereof as to any defendant, without prejudice, by order filed in the cause. 735 ILCS 5/2-1009(a). Such a voluntary dismissal does not dismiss a pending counterclaim or third party complaint. 735 ILCS 5/2-1009(d).

The authorities cited in this At A Glance Guide are current as of the publication date. For authorities updated in real time, please see the SmartRules Guide for the litigation document you are drafting.

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