How To Handle Court Summons When Served

posted by Sandra Olojede

September 7, 2017

What is a court summons?

A court summons is a document issued by a magistrate or judge of a court, to appear before the court for a case filed by a plaintiff. It is usually served by the bailiff of the court, and may be served on you directly or indirectly by substituted means (by display in a public place or publication in the newspaper). Usually, a court summons is preceded by a letter(s) of demand by the plaintiff, which has been ignored or treated with levity. So the question to be answered is: what should I do or not do when I receive a court summons?

Steps to take when you receive a court summons

  1. Ask the bailiff questions on the court the summons originated from, the location and what the case is about, his name and possibly phone number.
  2. Ensure that the name addressed on the summons is yours
  3. Check the summons for the name of the plaintiff’s lawyer information (address and phone number/ email), and contact him on a settlement plan if the claim is not large.
  4. Get a lawyer to advise you appropriately on the your defence if any or a means of settlement or possible negotiation.
  5. Defend the lawsuit whether or not you are guilty of the allegations levelled against you.


Consequences of Ignoring a court summons

Most persons treat court summons as a mere piece of paper and ignore it with the assumption that it is a mere threat. Unfortunately, you may try to salvage the situation only when a default judgment has been entered against you. Therefore, ignoring a court summons would lead to the following;

  1. Ignoring the court summons is an indirect admission on your part that the claims of the plaintiff against you are true.
  2. The court would enter a default judgment (in the absence of any defence on your part) to the claims of the plaintiff.
  3. In other to enforce the judgment, the plaintiff would garnishee all bank accounts you possess or place a lien on your properties to recover the judgment sum as a judgment debtor.

It is therefore advised that when you receive a court summons you should contact a lawyer to advice you accordingly. Lawstrive has exceptional experienced lawyers, who can handle any case efficiently.


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