What happens if I receive a summons? | Legal Articles

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What happens if I receive a summons?

A summons is the first process for a legal claim where a Plaintiff has instituted an action against a Defendant.

Once the summons is served via Sheriff, you will have 10 days to respond with a Notice of Intention to Defend or attempt to negotiate a settlement with the Plaintiff.

Summons - Attorneys Cape Town

If you fail to respond, the Plaintiff can apply for default judgment to be entered in their favour. It is best to consult an attorney if you receive a summons.

What should a summons look like / what details should it have for it to be legal?

There are prescribed formats for a summons and what should appear on the face thereof.

This generally includes:

  1. Heading of the court
  2. Case number
  3. Citation of the parties
  4. Stamp by the Clerk/Registrar of the court
  5. Setting out the period for defending the matter
  6. Signed off by the Plaintiff or their attorneys with their contact details and an address for service within 15km of the court address
  7. Forms attached: Notice of Intention to Defend, Consent to Judgment

The summons will also have a Particulars of Claim/Material Statement of Facts attached which sets out the facts, claim and relief sought.

How is a summons served?

  1. All summonses need to be served by the Sheriff of the court. Various manners of service are allowed in terms of Rule 9(3) of the Magistrates Court Rules and Rule 4(1) of the Uniform Rules of Court. This commonly includes:
  2. Personally, delivering a copy to the Defendant
  3. Leaving a copy at your place of residence or business with someone apparently in charge at the time of delivery, and not less than 16 years of age
  4. Delivering a copy at your place of employment with someone apparently not less than 16 years of age and apparently in authority
  5. Serving by delivering a leaving a copy at your chosen domicilium citandi et executandi (the address you have chosen in a contract for legal process to be executed)
  6. Where a residence or place of business is closed, it is sufficient to affix a copy of the summons to the outer door or gate or place a copy in a post box

Bailey Haynes Inc. – Attorneys Cape Town

Our attorneys in Cape Town specialise in civil litigation in the Magistrate’s, High-, and Regional Courts. If a summons has been issued against, it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney. Qualified, professional legal advice can save save you time and money, and may help you avoid going to court.

Contact us.


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