The Civil Summons procedure is the method of issuing legal proceedings in the District Court.
The District Court deals with claims with a value up to €6,348.69 (IR£5,000) and many people in Ireland will have been served with, or served, a Civil Summons in the last 18 months to pursue a debt.
Debt collection in Ireland has become increasingly active and pressurized in the last two years and an understanding of how to collect a debt or how to defend such an action is important to avoid having a judgment granted against you.
If you want to pursue a debt for less than €6,348.69 you can issue and serve a Civil Summons in your District Court area or in the District Court area of your debtor. Issuing a Civil summons in Dublin is slightly different than outside of Dublin.
Issuing a Civil Summons
To issue a Civil Summons in Dublin you simply bring your Summons along to the District Court office in the Four Courts. You will need two copies and one will need to be stamped with stamp duty of €20.
The District Court office will stamp your summons with a date. This date is called the return date which simply means that you appear in court on that date and will be given a date for the hearing of your claim.
Service of a Civil Summons
It is necessary though to firstly serve the Summons on your Debtor and you do this by serving a copy of the Civil Summons on them.
Service of any summons or legal document is determined by the rules of the various courts. Generally if you are suing a company you serve on the registered office of the company by ordinary post.
Service on an individual can be carried out by registered post or by personal service.
All of the rules in relation to service of legal papers and precedents for drafting your legal papers, such as your Civil Summons, can be found on the courts website at http://www.courts.ie
Once you have served your summons the debtor must file a Notice of Intention to Defend the proceedings in the office of the District Court. Once they do this your case will appear in the Court’s list on the return date and will be given a hearing or trial date.
If no Notice of Intention to Defend is filed by your debtor then you will be free to obtain a judgment against your debtor without any further court appearance.
If this is the case then one you get your Judgment or Summary Decree you send it to the Sheriff of the District court area for him/her to try to recover the value of your Summons.
Clearly if you are the recipient of a Civil Summons for A Debt then you should either make sure to fill out the Notice of Intention to Defend form and give it back into the District Court office and a copy to the person who is suing you (or their solicitor).
If you are not comfortable doing this yourself then you should call to a solicitor who will look after it for you.
But however you decide to act, do not bury your head in the sand if you are served with a Civil Summons or you run the risk of having Judgment granted against you in your absence.