How long is a summons valid for in South Africa? | Legal Articles

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How long is a summons valid for in South Africa?

The Rules of Court no longer provide for a period until a summons will lapse. Previously, a summons would lapse after 12 months since date of issue, or having been served, the Plaintiff has not taken further steps in prosecution.

Since the rules have been amended, there is a potentially indefinite period to prosecute an action. However, a defendant may raise a common law remedy of superannuation in which they can request the matter be dismissed due to inexcusable delay and depending on whether the Defendant has suffered prejudice as a result thereof.

Summons - Attorneys Cape Town

How to respond to a summons for debt?

Depending on whether you owe the debt claimed or not – you may want to arrange a payment plan or settlement agreement to avoid judgment being entered against your name or defend the matter.

You may want to visit an attorney to advise on whether you have a defence and further if the debt has perhaps prescribed and cannot be lawfully enforced at all. The general period for prescription is 3 years since the debt became due.

Types of summonses


There are four different types of summonses:

Simple summons

Used for a debt or liquidated demand. This is an ordinary summons that does not contain a Particulars of Claim attached.

Combined summons

This is used for an illiquid demand or debt, such as damages. Includes a Particulars of Claim which sets out the facts and claim.

Interpleader summons

In a matter where a person is in possession of property that belongs to another, and which such property is being claimed by two or more parties.

Provisional sentence summons

Used when suing on a liquid document where the Plaintiff has a prima facie case. It provides the Plaintiff with a speedy remedy for immediate judgment without the lengthy delay of trial.

Bailey Haynes Inc. – Law Firm in Cape Town

Our law firm in Cape Town specialises in civil litigation in the High-, Regional- and Magistrate’s Courts. If you have received a summons, it is always best to contact an attorney. Professional legal advice can save you thousands of Rands and may help you avoid going to court.

Contact us for all legal matters.

For more information regarding summonses - see "What happens if I receive a summons?".


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