In pleading, a general denial is a denial that relates to all allegations which are not otherwise pleaded to. Many legal systems provide that in a statement of defense, any allegation made by the plaintiff which is not traversed (i.e. specifically denied or "not-admitted") is deemed to have been admitted by the defendants. Accordingly, it became common practice to add a general denial at the end of a statement of defense to make sure that nothing was accidentally admitted in this fashion.
In English law, a general denial was a relatively common feature of pleading up until the mid-1990s, when the General Council of the Bar, through the Inns of Court School of Law, began teaching students that it should not be done except in pleadings of unusual length and complexity, and although it is still seen today, it is much less common.
In English law, the usual form of general denial was normally phrased:
- "Except as hereinbefore expressly admitted or not-admitted, each and every paragraph of the statement of claim is denied as if set out herein seriatim."
- Rule 8. Cornell University Law School. Accessed May 17, 2012.